Testing for mad cow disease cut back

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture will soon begin transitioning to an ongoing Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (mad cow disease) surveillance program that corresponds to the extremely low prevalence of the disease in the U.S.
“It’s time that our surveillance efforts reflect what we now know is a very, very low level of BSE in the United States,” said USDA Secretary Mike Johanns.
Samples. The ongoing surveillance program will sample approximately 40,000 animals each year.
Under the program, USDA will continue to collect samples from a variety of sites and from the cattle populations where the disease is most likely to be detected, similar to the enhanced surveillance program procedures.
Once the ongoing surveillance program begins, most likely late August, USDA will periodically analyze the surveillance strategy to ensure the program provides confidence in the safety of U.S. cattle.
Cost. The enhanced surveillance program has been funded using emergency CCC funds totaling $157.8 million since June 2004. Ongoing surveillance will cost $17 million per year using funds appropriated by Congress.
Study released. In April, USDA released an analysis of seven years of disease surveillance data. The analysis concluded that the prevalence of the disease in the U.S. is less than one case per million adult cattle.

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