BSE tests of Czech cattle continue

In the Czech Republic precautionary testing of cattle for mad-cow disease continues. Last week, one BSE-infected animal was found on a farm in South Moravia. For this reason 134 cows from the same herd were slaughtered on Friday as a precautionary measure. Although no second case was found, all slaughtered animals in the Czech Republic older than 30 months are to be tested. Lucie Krupickova reports:

Veterinarians and the army have begun burying the carcasses of the slaughtered animals near the affected farm in the village of Dusejov, some 120 kilometers south-east of Prague. The infected cow was the first case outside western Europe. This confirmed experts' fears that the infection has spread east due to the trade in live animals and animal feed.

In the wake of the Europe-wide BSE crisis the amount of beef sold in the Czech Republic has fallen significantly. We asked the Agriculture Ministry spokesman Hugo Roldan, how much the Czech Republic's first confirmed BSE case has affected consumer confidence:

"We do not expect more extreme decrease after our first case of BSE. By the contrary we are assuring the consumers that by using all our technical and veterinary measures we are still warranting that the beef meat is safe in the country. We do not expect a very substantial decrease of the consumption of the beef meat in the country."

The Agriculture Ministry has said it is investigating whether the disease could have come into the country through imported milk feed which contained fat from dead animals. All the animals slaughtered on Friday in Dusejov were of approximately the same age. They were considered a risk as they had all been fed the same milk feed in the past. However, the connection has not been confirmed. The source of the Czech infection still remains a mystery.

Are further positive cases likely to be detected in the Czech Republic? The Czech Republic's chief veterinary officer, Josef Holejsovsky.

"The only speculation we can make is that we found this case among 11 thousand of investigated animals and we can say that the speculation can be lead in the way that we should not have more cases than one per about 8 - 10 000. But it also can be fewer, it can be more. We will see."

Czech veterinarians will carry on testing all slaughtered animals older than 30 months. But the spokesman for the Czech Veterinary Authority Josef Duben says he does not think some of the states that banned imports of cattle and beef products from the Czech Republic will change their decision in the near future. Furthermore, last Saturday, Slovenia also prohibited imports of beef from the Czech Republic.

Author: Lucie Krupičková
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