Carcass tests show BSE rising in French cattle

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The Independent Online

A programme of tests to identify the spread of mad cow disease in France has turned up three cases in one week, and may uncover a further 120 infections.

A programme of tests to identify the spread of mad cow disease in France has turned up three cases in one week, and may uncover a further 120 infections.

Preliminary results have already shown greater than expected BSE contamination,linked to variant CJD, the fatal brain disease in humans.

France, which faces the courts for defying the European Commission's order to lift its ban on British beef, still has very few confirmed cases of BSE compared with the UK. The latest findings bring the number this year to 34, surpassing the 30 detected in 1999.

The three new cases have come from 40,000 carcasses analysed since testing began on 7 August. Two, in Maine-et-Loire, were milking cows born in 1992 and 1993; regulations on feed were tightened in 1991.

Of the 48,000 tests planned before the end of the year, 40,000 will take place in Brittany, Normandy and the Pays de la Loire, the heart of French cattle farming in the country's west and the region where most BSE cases have been detected. "We are going to find others," said André Manfrédi of the General Directorate of Food. "We hope to stand at between four and 120 cases of BSE on the 40,000 [tests]."

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