Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy list <BSE-L@UNI-KARLSRUHE.DE>
New BSE fears raised
8 May 2000
The BSE epidemic may last longer than previously thought because of
a "real risk" that the disease was spread by cow pats from infected
cattle, a leading scientist has said.
BSE expert Dr Alan Dickenson told Radio Four's Farming Today
programme that his research suggested cattle continued to catch BSE
long after the date the Government believed was possible.
The new findings sparked fears that Britain was risking another trade
war with France and Germany over the spread of the disease.
Microbiologist Dr Stephen Dealler told the programme that unless
urgent action was taken to curb the spread of the disease, the French
and Germans would impose new restrictions on British beef.
The Government has insisted that the last cattle were infected in
August 1996, either through contaminated feed or, in a small number of
cases, from mother to calf.
But Dr Dickenson, the founding director of the Neuropathogenisis Unit
in Edinburgh which researches BSE, warned that animals born after
August 1996 may have caught the disease a "third way", through
His research shows that cow pats excreted on to grazing land by
cattle at the height of the epidemic posed a "real risk" of infection.
If cattle born after August 1996 caught BSE through infected soil, the
epidemic would last longer than the Government predicted.
The disease's five–year incubation period means it will not be possible
to tell whether Dr Dickenson is right until 2001.
Dr Dealler said he feared France and Germany would extend their
bans on the import of British beef unless the Government takes action
to stop the spread of the disease.
He added that the future spread of BSE could be "drastically reduced"
if cattle and sheep were injected with the drug pentosan polysulphate.
The compound, used in the United States to treat cystitis, has been
shown to drastically reduce BSE infectivity in laboratory mice, Dr
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