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2 Vermont Sheep Found to Have a Rare, Brain-Deforming Disease

April 12, 2002|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — Two sheep, seized from a Vermont farm by U.S. government officials last year, tested positive for a family of rare, brain-deforming animal diseases that includes scrapie and mad cow disease, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday.

The USDA said tissues from the infected sheep were found to have a foreign strain of a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy disease, but the type of TSE was not yet known.

Scrapie and mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, are from the same family of diseases known as TSEs, which cause infected brains to become spongy and eventually wither. No cases of mad cow disease have been discovered in the United States.

The sheep were part of a flock of 125 confiscated by the USDA in March 2001 after four animals from a nearby flock tested positive for TSE in July 2000.

The USDA has acquired, killed and tested 380 Vermont sheep for animal diseases. USDA said none of the animals entered the animal or human food supply.

The sheep, imported by Vermont farmers from Belgium and the Netherlands, had been under quarantine since 1998.

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