More Mad Cow [Disease] Suspected in Japan
Japan discovered a fifth suspected case of mad cow disease Thu, 22 Aug
2002, reviving fears that the government has failed to stem the disease since an
outbreak late last year.

 Despite government assurances that homegrown beef is safe to eat, the news
 that another cow may be infected comes just 3 months after Japan confirmed
 its fourth case of the deadly, brain-wasting illness. The 6-year,
 8-month-old Holstein dairy cow tested positive for the disease during a
 regular inspection by health officials in Atsugi city, west of Tokyo,
 local  government spokesman Hideya Inomata said.

 Samples of the cow's brain and spinal cord were sent to a government
 research center, which will run more precise tests to finally determine
 whether the cow is infected. The rest of the animal's carcass was being
 held in cold storage until the tests come back, as early as Fri 22 Aug 2002, he

 Since Tokyo began regular screening of all cattle bound for human
 consumption last October [2001], 95 cows have turned up positive in
 preliminary tests, Inomata said. But only 3 of those tests were confirmed
 in follow-up examinations. Still, the possibility of another infected animal
 among the 4.56 million cows nationwide generated immediate concern.

In September 2001, Japan became the first country to find a diseased cow
outside of Europe, where the disease has devastated cattle farmers. Two
other cows tested positive in Nov 2001, and a fourth case was confirmed
May 2002.

Tokyo has tried to reassure a jittery public that the country's beef
stocks are free of the tainted meat. On Thursday, the Agriculture Ministry was
considering continuing testing cows through the next fiscal year,
beginning in Apr 2003. More than 1 million cows nationwide have already been tested.
So far the tests have failed to assuage concerns, with surveys after the
outbreak late last year suggesting that as many as one in 4 Japanese had
stopped eating beef.

Japan has banned the use of meat-and-bone meal as cattle feed, in addition
to its extensive screening of slaughtered cattle.

Japan Confirms 5th Case of Mad Cow Disease

Japan's Health Ministry confirmed a 5th case of mad cow disease on Thu, 22
Aug 2002, rekindling a health scare that has devastated its food and
livestock sector and shaken consumer confidence, Final tests on a
6-year-old dairy cow slaughtered near Tokyo came up positive for the
brain-wasting disease, a ministry official said.

The ministry will hold a meeting of animal-health experts on Friday to
review the results for official confirmation.

Since October 2001, Japan has screened all cows slaughtered for beef for
the disease. The first case in Japan -- and Asia -- was found in September

The health scare has devastated Japan's appetite for beef, battered
earnings of food companies and restaurants and shattered faith in the country's
food-safety standards.

The Japanese government had to deal with a complex situation following
the discovery, in 2001, of the first case of BSE; several deficiencies were
discovered and reported to be under correction. Blaming the government for
the current case seems unjustified: the 6-year-old cow had been infected
at  least 5 years ago. Rather, the Japanese authorities are to be commended
for  the current diagnosis, which is a result of the implementation of an
extensive BSE surveillance and control programme. It will be interesting
to be updated about the results of the epidemiological investigations on this
case, with special reference to the feeding of the cow during her first
months, and the source of the used calf-milk-replacer. Our readers may
remember that all first 4 cases in Japan are said to have been fed with a
calf milk-replacer from a common source. A Japanese delegation has
recently visited The Netherlands concerning the animal fat included in
milk-replacers used in Japan; the results of that visit have not been disclosed.