Germans Suspect New Cause of Mad Cow

BERLIN-Researchers in Germany are investigating a possible new source behind bovine spongiform encephalopathy and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

The disease has long been believed to be spread by feeding cattle the meat and bone meal from dead infected cattle. However, officials are now looking at fat produced from carcasses used to supplement milk fed to calves.

Germany banned the feeding of meat and bone meal to cattle in 1995, but allowed the use for pigs and poultry. They also allowed calves to have dietary supplements which was a low-cost substitute for the richer fat in cows' milk, that was removed to make butter.

Although this theory is not proven, officials across the continent are agreeing that the practice of feeding carcass byproducts to grass-eating animals is unsafe. With more than 91 people dead from the human variant of Mad Cow Disease, researchers are scrambling for answers.

Widespread testing of cattle across Europe is in effect. Two new cases were reported in both Spain and Germany this week.

The origin, mechanism, and trasmission of both diseases are unknown. Researchers say humans acquire Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from eating meat tainted with the prion proteins of an infected animal. Estimates of those who could contract the disease in Europe vary from hundreds to tens of thousands.

Information from www.washingtonpost.com

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