2 December 2003
MADRID – The number of cases of mad cow disease has risen in Spain by 30 percent this year, it was reported Tuesday.
Professor Juan Jose Badiola, head of the National Reference Centre which studies the disease, said that last year there were 127 confirmed cases of the disease.
But this year, scientists expect between 150 and 155 cases to emerge.
Prof Badiola said the worst-affected region in Spain was the north-west of the country, which traditionally relies on rearing beef cows.
He said that cases of the disease remained on a “upward curve” in Spain and warned that the number of cases will continue to rise, mirroring the picture in other European countries.
Prof Badiola blamed the rise in the number of cases on the use of animal flour in the diet of cows. This was still the practice until 2000 – the date when the first case was confirmed in Spain.
Prof Badiola, who is head of the General Council of Veterinary Colleges in Spain, said the number of affected animals were born between 1996 and 1998, and were fed with animal flour.
However, it is only now that the symptoms of the disease were beginning to emerge in this generation of cows.
Prof Badiola said though the rise in cases was “worrying” the vigilance and and control programmes underway in Spain and the rest of Europe “were working” to stop infected animals passing into the food chain.
He said that if one took a pessimistic view, the highest number of cases would be expected to emerge between 2005-2006.
But he said it was expected the disease would be eradicated by 2015.
He did not discount the possibility that the disease would be passed on to humans but in Spain there have been no cases.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news