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Rapid testing to be used in testing cattle for mad cow

Under the newly announced slaughter regulations announced by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman Tuesday, rapid testing will be used to test animals for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease.

According to Dr. Ron DeHaven, Chief Veterinarian for the United States Department of Agriculture, they have already discussed using one of the several rapid tests available in Europe.

"Theoretically, the plan as we have developed it thus far would suggest that we would obtain the samples, whether they be at rendering plants or on the farm. Those samples then would be sent by overnight express to our laboratory to be received in the neighborhood of 10 a.m. the next morning," said DeHaven.

The samples would then be tested at the lab in Ames, Iowa, with the results completed by the end of the day. He said if everything goes perfectly, assuming tests are negative, the results would be sent out the afternoon or early evening the day after they were first received.

DeHaven said that they are building in some flexibility in the scheduling. He said they expect that the test results will be back to slaughter houses within 36 to 48 hours.

"There's always the possibility that there could be complications in the laboratory," said DeHaven.

He added that for those animals that test positive, the carcasses would continue to be held pending further testing.

Animals testing positive would not be used in any fashion, including to make animal food or cosmetics, he said.

. Melissa Browning can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or e-mail mbrowning@eaglenewspapers.com

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