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USDA document cites young mad cow cases

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WASHINGTON, Aug 23, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A U.S. Department of Agriculture document from 1990 obtained by UPI acknowledges British cows as young as 22 months were infected with mad cow.

USDA officials, in the wake of the December case of mad cow disease, have insisted it would be unlikely to find the deadly disease in cows under 30 months of age, but the 1990 document indicates the agency once was concerned about the possibility of young cases.

"This appears to be a 'smoking gun' document, which shows that the agency knew at one time at least that animals younger than 30 months were affected by the disease," Michael Hansen, a biologist and senior research associate with the watchdog group Consumers Union in Yonkers, N.Y., told UPI.

The document, entitled "Emergency Programs Alert" and issued May 1990, describes the outbreak of mad cow disease in the United Kingdom and states: "Age of affected cattle at onset ranged from 1 year 10 months to 15 years." The document urges USDA veterinarians to collect a brain sample from any U.S. cattle showing signs of the disease and does not specify any limitations on age.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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