Incidents of BSE fall in Europe

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Bse, Bovine spongiform encephalopathy

The discovery in Ireland of another probable case of variant
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) might turn some consumers away
from their meat, but perhaps they can be assured the country, and
the EU, seem to be winning the battle to stamp out bovine
spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

With the exception of Spain, the number of BSE cases found this year in European countries is falling dramatically, indicating that testing and control programmes are working.

Last week the Irish agricultural department announced it had found another case of BSE in a 12-year-old cow. The discovery makes it the 37th case of BSE discovered in Ireland so far this year, adecline from the 71 cases found during the same period in 2004, 107 cases in 2003 and 191 cases for the same period in 2002.

Unfortunately for the meat industry at the same time as that announcement the Irish health department discovered another person infected with vCJD in a Dublin hospital. This is the third case ofvCJD discovered in Ireland. The disease is a rare and fatal human disease of the brain strongly linked to exposure, probably through food, to BSE in cattle.

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health​, Ireland found 126 cases of BSE in its cattle last year, compared with 137 found in Spain. TheUK had the highest incidence of BSE cases in the world last year with 343 cases confirmed, followed by Spain, Ireland. Portugal is fourth in the BSE league, reporting 92 cases in 2004, followed byGermany with 65 cases. France reported 54 cases of BSE last year.

It's a league Ireland and the rest of the other countries are desperately trying to get off in a bid to calm consumer and industry fears about the safety of their cattle.

The declines this year show that extensive testing and controls programmes put in place are helping to bring down incidences of the disease. The BSE epidemic was first recognised in the UK in 1986.At its peak in 1992, a total of 37,280 cases were discovered in UK cattle.

So far this year the UK remains at the top of the BSE list, with 66 cases confirmed, indicating that the total for the year could fall by about 60 per cent. Spain has reported 52 cases so far thisyear, Ireland 37 cases and Portugal 13 cases. Germany and France have so far not reported any incidents of BSE.

Poland reported 11 cases of BSE last year and has so far discovered another 11 cases this year.

This month the US confirmed it had found its second case of BSE. The last case was discovered in December 2003.

The tables for BSE incidents across the world can be seen by clicking here​.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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