Swedish Farm Under Mad Cow Suspicion

STOCKHOLM, Sweden-Two dairy cows that were acting suspiciously have forced Swedish agriculture officials to place a dairy farm in a northern region of the country under quarantine.

Preliminary test results of both of the 3-year-old cows are expected later this week. Cattle in Europe are being watched carefully for any signs of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease. BSE attacks a cow's brain, leaving small sponge-like holes in the dura mater. It is always fatal and is thought to be caused from tainted meal, fed to the cattle.

If cattle that have died of BSE are then slaughtered and sold, researchers believe humans who eat beef tainted with this prion-based disease develop variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) . vCJD similarly causes sponge-like holes in the human brain and has killed more than 100 people in Europe during the past 5 years.

The Swedish cows under suspicion began moving with difficulty, have stiffness and wobbliness-three characteristic signs of BSE in cattle. The cows were slaughtered and sent to researchers for tests.

Swedish agriculture officials have avoided the wave of mad cow that has swept through Europe, killing both cattle and humans in its wake. Although they have had several false alarms of infected animals, they have remained clear of the disease to date.

Information from www.latimes.com