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USDA did not Test Possible Mad Cows

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WASHINGTON, Jun 08, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it tested 500 cows with signs of brain disorders in 2003, but agency documents show only half that were tested.

The USDA says the difference is made up in animals tested at state laboratories, but these animals were not tested using the "gold standard" test employed by the agency for confirming a case of the deadly disease. Instead, the state labs used a less sensitive test that experts say could miss cases of mad cow disease.

In addition, the state lab figures were not included in a March USDA document estimating the number of animals most likely to be infected among U.S. herds, and the numbers apparently were not given to the House Committee on Government Reform, which had requested agency data on the number of cows with brain disorder signs that had been tested for the disease.

Cows with brain disorder symptoms are considered the most likely to test positive for mad cow. Humans can contract a fatal brain disorder called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from consuming meat infected with the mad cow pathogen.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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