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Medicine United States

Mad Cow Disease Confirmed In California 274

Posted by Soulskill
from the denny-crane dept.
New submitter wave9x writes "The United States Department of Agriculture confirmed today that the nation's fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, sometimes referred to as 'mad cow disease' was found in a dairy cow in California. The animal has been euthanized and the carcass is being being held under State authority at a rendering facility in California and will be destroyed."
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Mad Cow Disease Confirmed In California

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @09:18PM (#39790205)

    are belong to us!

  • American Culture (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @09:20PM (#39790225)

    It is completely telling that news of this appeared in the Business Section [google.com] (currently the second hit on Google News) before it appeared at all in the Health Section [google.com].

    • by poity (465672) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @09:40PM (#39790399)

      Maybe because the irrational fear that surrounds something with a transmission rate of 1 out of millions can affect the market far more so than actual health of the population at large. If this tells us anything at all (which I doubt) it would be something about the emotional factor in futures trading.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You twits who keep sneering at people with "irrational fear" seem to think nothing should be done about an incident that could be the start of an epidemic if not dealt with promptly, or a massive disaster that could poison an enormous amount of populated land for generations.

        Whether it's nuclear power in the hands of amoral incompetent business types or deadly diseases, you idiots believe you're experts and know better than the actual experts. Well, you don't, so why don't you just shut up and appreciate t

        • Re:American Culture (Score:5, Informative)

          by Baloroth (2370816) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @10:59PM (#39790911)

          Indeed. Four cases of a disease in cows (in the US), with three humans infected is indeed extremely threatening. Never mind the UK had an actual epidemic, with over 180,000 cases in cows, and still only had 176 people infected (from Wikipedia). In my mind, that makes BSE less dangerous than... well, just about everything. Hell, there have only been 280 reported cases of infected humans from BSE, ever. Tell me again why people should be scared? Yes, health officials should be careful: damned careful. The average person? Don't worry about it.

          No one said nothing should be done. They did what needed to be done: euthanized the cow and dispose of the corpse properly.

          • by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @11:18PM (#39791027) Journal
            Of course, we are just starting to look for it.
            • Re:American Culture (Score:5, Interesting)

              by davester666 (731373) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @02:14AM (#39791845) Journal

              You mean "of course, we are just starting to appear to look for it".

              The industry has actively resisted increasing testing for BSE for two reasons:
              1) it costs money
              2) it finds cows with BSE

              Of course, the USDA has required insanely higher levels of testing for cows/beef from Canada.

              • by xenobyte (446878) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @04:26AM (#39792323)

                Of course, the USDA has required insanely higher levels of testing for cows/beef from Canada.

                Of coruse! - It's Canada! - We all know they're planning to invade the US and it would make their invasion much easier if everybody had CJD (the human variant of BSE, possibly caused by eating BSE-infected meat), right? - So remain vigilant when it comes to those pesky Canadians! :)

              • by Sulphur (1548251)

                You mean "of course, we are just starting to appear to look for it".

                The industry has actively resisted increasing testing for BSE for two reasons:
                1) it costs money
                2) it finds cows with BSE

                Of course, the USDA has required insanely higher levels of testing for cows/beef from Canada.

                Mad testers test for mad cows. Recursion anyone?

          • by Cyberax (705495) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @11:39PM (#39791113)
            The problem is: 1) Cows SHOULD NOT even get infected. That means that cows are fed lightly processed cow meat. 2) BSE is a disease with very long incubation period. If BSE infected food supply then we can start getting many new infections. 3) BSE is incurable and always leads to death.
            • Re:American Culture (Score:5, Informative)

              by Eivind Eklund (5161) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @12:16AM (#39791279) Journal

              It doesn't mean that the cow are fed cow meat at all. The prion [wikipedia.org] that cause BSE [wikipedia.org] can be created naturally through mutation, and then reproduce. This kind of mutation happens very occasionally, but it does happen often enough that we have seen it happen several times. This is believed to be such a case; to quote the Associated Press coverage [ap.org]:

              Clifford said the California cow is what scientists call an atypical case of BSE, meaning that it didn't get the disease from eating infected cattle feed, which is important.

              That means it's "just a random mutation that can happen every once in a great while in an animal," said Bruce Akey, director of the New York State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Cornell University.

              Eivind.

            • Re:American Culture (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @01:01AM (#39791461)

              BSE is poorly tested for in the USA (regulations not adhered to or relaxed) , this is why many US beef products are/were unwelcome in Japan.
              Human infection is understated, symptoms and diagnosis can take 10 years to manifest. There are postmortem studies performed in the 90's that indicate over 25% of diagnosed dementia and Alzheimer's victims were actually BSE infected individuals.

              These studies were not widely distributed and testing has been allowed to become relaxed for purely economic reasons. ... See the UK incidence.

              • Re:American Culture (Score:5, Informative)

                by xenobyte (446878) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @04:35AM (#39792359)

                BSE is poorly tested for in the USA (regulations not adhered to or relaxed) , this is why many US beef products are/were unwelcome in Japan.
                Human infection is understated, symptoms and diagnosis can take 10 years to manifest. There are postmortem studies performed in the 90's that indicate over 25% of diagnosed dementia and Alzheimer's victims were actually BSE infected individuals.

                These studies were not widely distributed and testing has been allowed to become relaxed for purely economic reasons. ... See the UK incidence.

                Humans don't get BSE (Hint: The 'B' stands for 'Bovine') - they get Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD). They're both prion diseases but the actual prion involved differs. It is believed that BSE prions from food can trigger invalid folding of the CJD prion in humans and thus CJD but the details are not completely understood. Both BSE and CJD can also be triggered through genetic defects, either hereditary or through mutations.

          • by NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @01:15AM (#39791551)
            By American beef. If you actually read the report from the CDC the 3 people diagnosed in the US all are believed to have been infected when they were living outside of the US. (If I remember correctly 2 were British and it's expected they were infected when they lived in the UK and the 3rd was a Saudi that got infected in Saudia Arabia.) IE worry more about dying from bad spinach or contaminated tap water.
          • Re:American Culture (Score:5, Interesting)

            by robthebloke (1308483) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @05:40AM (#39792593)

            In my mind, that makes BSE less dangerous than... well, just about everything.

            Yes, but what you are failing to understand is that whilst there may have been 180,000 cows who caught the disease, that is a small drop in the ocean compared to the number of animals who were put down to prevent any possibility of transmission. After the disease devastated the export market for British beef, it devastated the beef industry as a whole, and put countless farmers out of business (with numerous reports of farmers taking their own lives). It took decades for the industry to recover. It's a hideous disease.

            • it still hasn't recovered. Have you seen the price of prime cut lately? I have, but that's only because I went shopping yesterday. For comparison, a kilo of smoked wild atlantic salmon fillet is £23. A kilo of prime cut beef is £24. That's ASDA price. I shit ye not, a knot of beef the size of your fist will lighten your wallet by at least £10.

              Way back when a beef dinner was an almost daily occurrence for me (1992), a kilo of prime cut could be had for change out of a fiver. On the bone was

          • Don't forget about Kuru, the other well known Prion disease that once ran rampant under Cannibals on New Guinea :-)

             

          • by arth1 (260657)

            ndeed. Four cases of a disease in cows (in the US), with three humans infected is indeed extremely threatening. Never mind the UK had an actual epidemic, with over 180,000 cases in cows, and still only had 176 people infected (from Wikipedia). In my mind, that makes BSE less dangerous than... well, just about everything

            It's not just the infection rate that scares people, but the lethality. CJD is probably[*] 100% fatal within 6-18 months, with no known cure.
            But so are a whole lot of other things, which we do not obsess about - we take reasonable precautions and go on living.
            I will still enjoy eating marrow bones, just like I enjoy driving on the road. Without any risk, life would not be precious, and not worth living.

            [*] IIRC, we can't say for sure because a couple of the reported cases died from other causes.

          • by biodata (1981610)
            People should be scared because if they catch it their brains will decompose. Noone wants that. The risks of BSE are higher than the risks of passive smoking, and look how many laws we need to manage that huge threat.
      • by Guppy (12314)

        The apparent infectiousness of current Mad Cow prion strains is negligible. But, I'd be more concerned knowing of the existence of Chronic Wasting Disease [wikipedia.org] of Deer and Elk, which apparently has significant animal-to-animal transmission rates. Species-jumping ability of CWD still seems poor, but it's ability to maintain endemic passage in a natural setting (without cannibalistic feeding practices) is worrying.

        Can Prions mutate to give the same transmissibility in cattle? Right now, nobody knows.

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          It's highly unlikely. Prions "reproduce" by causing normally folded proteins to refold in the prion shape. A "mutated" prion wouldn't match the regular one anymore.

    • Or it's just that it's lower down in the health section because it's simply far more important for people to know that you can't fix migraines with... botox? [webmd.com]

      Yeah, we're all screwed up over here. Thanks for the reminder.

    • by Guppy06 (410832) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @10:16PM (#39790657)

      As markets shut their doors to US beef, the disease is far more likely to affect your 401k than your brain.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by tmosley (996283)
        Unless you drank a glass of milk containing a single unit of the malformed protein, in which case you are going to die in 10-30 years.

        There is some promising work on "vaccines" in mice, but the way this country is screwed up with regards to medical regulation, I'm not sure we'll see it in time.
    • Re:American Culture (Score:5, Informative)

      by dr_dank (472072) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @10:20PM (#39790687) Homepage Journal

      It's definitely telling... telling that you didn't see the disclaimer on the bottom of the Google News page:

      The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program.

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      Maybe that's because even the rumor of it threw cattle futures into the garbage? It was "noticed" before it was confirmed, which is when it would be proper to be in health sections.

  • FTA: The Centers for Disease Control reports that the chance of contracting mad cow disease, even after consuming contaminated products, is less than one in 10 billion, if at all.

    I figure since we won't even have 10 billion people for a while yet, we're safe!
    • by mustafap (452510)

      Maybe they should look at what has happened in other countries

    • Re:Whew... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sperbels (1008585) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @09:31PM (#39790327)
      And this would be based on what exactly?
    • Cods Whallap! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mr0bvious (968303) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @09:38PM (#39790379)

      So we only have an estimated population of around 7 billion people, yet as of November 2006 there were 200 individuals worldwide diagnosed with mad cow disease, including 164 people in the United Kingdom, 21 in France, 4 in the Republic of Ireland, the 3 in the US, 2 in the Netherlands, and 1 each in Canada, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, and Spain, according to the CDC. Of these individuals, most (170) had lived in the UK for over 6 months during the years 1980-1996; 20 others had lived in France during that time. [taken from: http://rarediseases.about.com/od/rarediseases1/a/vcjd.htm [about.com] ]

      So using CDC math we should only have a 0.7 reported cases........

      • Re:Cods Whallap! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ravenshrike (808508) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @09:47PM (#39790461)

        How often did they eat contaminated meat?

      • Re:Cods Whallap! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sarten-X (1102295) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @09:48PM (#39790465) Homepage

        No, using improperly-applied statistics we have 0.7 cases.

        Now consider that the CDC statistic likely refers to the per-exposure chance. 200 people worldwide with the disease, a one in 10 billion is about 2 trillion exposures, which works out to about only needing 285 exposures per person since 1980. I've personally been exposed to risky meat more than that.

        I am not an epidemiologist, though, and I'd wager that your and GP aren't, either.

        • by Mr0bvious (968303)

          I see the flaws in my comment :)

          Oh well, at least the other's thinking the same silly idea will now see where our thinking was flawed.

          Thanks for correcting my blabber!

          (indeed, I am far from a epidemiologist)

        • by tgd (2822)

          I've personally been exposed to risky meat more than that.

          I am not an epidemiologist, though, and I'd wager that your and GP aren't, either.

          You've been exposed to meat that is dramatically riskier for reasons other than BSE far more often, though. You're far more likely to die from biologically contaminated meat than prion contaminated meat. Enormously higher. I don't know about you, but I still order my burgers medium rare. Life is a terminal disease, and you only get to do it once. Personally, I'd rather worry about what I want to do with that time, and the risks from things that might actually impact that time. BSE is not one of them.

    • by drerwk (695572)
      If that is 1:10,000,000 per instance of hamburger eaten I may be in trouble.
    • Re:Whew... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by No, I am Spratacus! (2281684) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @10:45PM (#39790819)

      Yeah, perhaps the American Red Cross will now allow people from Europe or who have lived in Europe to donate blood.

      As of now, people who have "spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time of 5 years or more from January 1, 1980, to present, in any combination of country(ies) in Europe" are ineligible to donate; the time is even shorter (3 months) for the UK, all because of mad cow paranoia.

    • I would think that statistic is per serving, meaning a big mac per day for a year gives odds of 1 in 7 million or 5 deaths in California per year (approx).
  • by poity (465672) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @09:28PM (#39790299)

    At least we can look forward to cheaper steaks for a while

    • by Nesa2 (1142511)
      Prices go up when supply is down... unlikely for demand to go down as well... BBQ season!
      • by poity (465672)

        You can bet demand will go down in the short term as Americans get into paranoia mode about beef, and supply isn't going to go anywhere (in fact they may go up as exports decline due to international fear of US beef) Yummy steaks here we come!

      • by poity (465672)

        I don't know how I did it, but I read your post wrong :(

  • No wonder (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @09:37PM (#39790363)

    I'll just leave this [unc.edu] here.

    • Nice graphic. One note however: The "National Tracking System" (at least as currently envisioned -- comprehensive and applying to all livestock) is going to be yet a further burden harming small family farms. The last version of the system I looked at would require updating a database every time livestock moved onto a non-contiguous property. While this isn't an issue for large feedlot operations, many small farms lease pasture from neighbors and transport the animals a mile or two on a regular basis.

      I pref

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @09:37PM (#39790365)
    As a Wisconsinite who always snickers a little when I see one of those moronic "Happy Cows come from California" commercials on TV, I'll probably tear something from laughter the next time I see one. Cheese is part of our holy trinity: Beer, the Packers, and Cheese. Californian dairies probably aren't aware of the fact that a cow udder with one teat ain't an udder.
  • Don't eat T-Bones (Score:5, Informative)

    by sandytaru (1158959) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @09:47PM (#39790459) Journal
    Prions are primarily present in nerve tissue. The major concentration of nerve tissue is in cuts of meat like the T-Bone, which by their nature may still have traces of the spinal cord. Stick with cheaper, lesser cuts of meat (that aren't pink slime...) such as chuck, shank, and brisket, and you'll be fine.
    • by mirix (1649853)

      So the 'T' bone is half a vertebra? Never dawned on me before, I guess that makes sense.

    • by Grayhand (2610049)

      Prions are primarily present in nerve tissue. The major concentration of nerve tissue is in cuts of meat like the T-Bone, which by their nature may still have traces of the spinal cord. Stick with cheaper, lesser cuts of meat (that aren't pink slime...) such as chuck, shank, and brisket, and you'll be fine.

      The problem is how beef is processed. The very first cut is right down the middle of the spine spraying bits of spinal cord all over the meat. A tiny amount of prions can cause infection so avoiding certain cuts will have no affect. Avoiding organ meats that involve brain and nerve tissue isn't a bad idea but the only sure way to avoid exposure other than avoiding beef is to thoroughly cook the meat. Eating rare meat is risky. The fact that they only test downer cattle means that there is contaminated meat

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Cooking the meat doesn't help: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/02/science/02qna.html

      • This is the tip of the iceberg - consider how cattle are primarily killed: the captive-bolt gun. It propels a chunk of steel into the animal's brain, which is pulverized, and bits of brain are then carried through the body of the animal via the circulatory system.

        And as the OP mentions, nerve tissue is where prions are found, and TSE's are found primarily in the brain. It turns the brain to 'sponge', thus the S in Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE (Mad Cow) which is Bovine Spongiform Enceph
  • Private BSE Testing (Score:5, Informative)

    by PPH (736903) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @09:51PM (#39790483)

    There was a suggestion to do private testing for BSE by individual ranchers the last time there was an 'outbreak'. The idea was to market their product as having been tested. But that was banned by the USDA [life-enhancement.com].

    • by DrkShadow (72055)

      http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=949053&cid=24814727 [slashdot.org]:

      [The "rapid" BSE test in question] can detect abnormal prions only if they exist in a relatively high concentration, and abnormal prions typically reach detectable concentrations only two to three months before an animal exhibits observable symptoms. The incubation period for BSE (i.e., from infection to observable symptoms) is two to eight yearsâ"the average being five yearsâ"and cattle younger than thirty months are rarely symptomat

  • can exist in a cow for years before symptoms manifest clearly for visual detection, its possible the steak at the supermarket is infected regardless. early symptoms include the inability of cattle to stand properly, so instead of testing the USDA simply mandated that downed cattle cannot be used for slaughter. this of course has been sidestepped as a regulation in the past.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bovine_spongiform_encephalopathy#Regulatory_failures [wikipedia.org]
    in some cases, we cant even get it together to reg
    • >we're talking about an industry thats basically run its own government sanctioned regulatory board. this board is a shining example of why an agency charged with regulating as well as promoting is flawed on a fundamental level.

      Same thing with nuclear power, the board are also the promoters. The farm lobby is also similar in many of its government connections.

  • by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @10:59PM (#39790913)
    If you RTFA, it points out:
    1. This cow was never going to be sold for meat.
    2. This was a single point case of BSE; it wasn't the result of a transmission vector like contaminated feed, it just arose naturally (like prion diseases do in most mammals on rare occasions)

    Ever since we stopped feeding ground up cow parts to other cows, the rate of BSE has dropped to near zero; it's only when cow engage in cannibalism that the disease spreads to enough cattle to produce a measurable risk to any human.

  • In response, the California state government passed an emergency bill that doubled public employee pensions, authorized another "fifty blagillion miles" of track to the high speed rail they think is going to be built, and outlawed all businesses with more than zero employees. Governor Brown signed the bill and said to the press, "A vision stands on someone else's feet. The light at the end of the tunnel has its world revealed by trees." before passing out and being wheeled away.

  • Only buy beef from ranches with 100% grass fed cows. Anyone who has been lucky enough to eat steak in Argentina or Uruguay knows that US beef is tasteless junk anyway. Argentine cows graze naturally on grass and they are the best tasting cows in the world.

    Of course not eating animals in the first place isn't a bad idea. It's a filthy habit which unfortunately many of us learn in childhood and find it difficult to break even when, as adults, we are aware of how barbaric it is. I think Mark Zuckerberg has the

    • by will_die (586523)
      Your numbers on Argentina beef are really old, based on last years numbers only around 20% of Argentina beef was 100% grass fed and alot of that was not exported.
      Most of the Argentina beef is grass feed and grain finished, like you get the USA, or they are doing more is just locking the calfs into large pens using steroids, antibiotics, cheap high calorie food and almost no physical movement to produce a tendor steer, quick to market.
  • I see that Britney finally went to the doc and got her diagnosis.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    with Rosie O'Donnel's body?

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