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Japan Will Burn 5,100 Cows

Agriculture: Second case of brain disease brings plans for incineration.

November 23, 2001|From Associated Press

TOKYO — With a second case of "mad cow" disease confirmed in Japan, the government said Thursday it will slaughter and incinerate 5,100 cows that may have been fed ground animal parts.

The Agriculture Ministry could begin the measures nationwide as early as next week, said Satoshi Maema, an official at the ministry's Animal Health Division.

Japanese officials have been struggling to prevent the spread of the fatal brain-wasting disease since the first case--in a 5-year-old dairy cow--was discovered in September. A second Holstein was found Wednesday to have contracted the disease on the northern island of Hokkaido, and Japanese health authorities said more cases may emerge.

Investigators suspect that the animals contracted the disease by eating contaminated feed. After the first case was confirmed, health authorities banned the import and use of feed made from meat-and-bone meal and began mandatory inspections of beef before marketing.

The government has also asked the nation's food manufacturers to recall some products made with beef extract.

But this is the first time that officials will resort to the more drastic step of slaughtering entire herds--a step that may help check consumer fears of a full-blown mad cow epidemic.

Jittery consumers have avoided beef in recent months, despite government assurances that home-grown beef was safe to eat. Domestic meat sales remain depressed, and butchers and beef restaurants are likely to continue to face difficult times.

Mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, is believed to be spread by feeding cattle ground-up meat and bones from infected animals.

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