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Infected Holstein one of 10 Canadian cows sent to Mabton dairy

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One of many Holstein cows in the Yakima Valley

Dr. Ron DeHaven, chief veterinarian for the United States Department of Agriculture, announced Wednesday that 10 of the 82 cows imported into the United States from Canada, which includes the bovine spongiform encephalopathy infected cow, were found to have been sent to the Wavrin family's Mabton dairy.

Nine of the animals remain at the dairy. The tenth was the animal that was slaughtered Dec. 9, leading to the discovery of the United States' first case of mad cow disease.

Before killing the cows to test for BSE, or mad cow disease as it is commonly called, DeHaven said the USDA is trying to determine if the cows at the Mabton dairy are birth cohorts of the animal found to have BSE, and whether or not the animals came from the same herd in Alberta.

"If we're able to absolutely confirm that they weren't fed the same feed as the indexed cow, then we may or may not take the animals at that point," said DeHaven.

Although DeHaven is slow to say the BSE infected cow is definitely from Canada, he said the USDA's primary line of interest leads to an Alberta, Canada herd.

"We have good leads on the remaining animals," said DeHaven.

This morning (Friday) DeHaven announced one of the 82 cows imported from Canada was recently located at a Mattawa dairy facility, which is now under state hold alert, or quarantine.

This brings the total number of animals located from the orginal 82 that crossed into the United States Sept. 4, 2001 at the Oroville, Wash. border crossing, to 11, DeHaven said. He noted that there is also information that points to one of the animals having remained in Canada.

DeHaven also announced that the international team of experts that will review the United States case of mad cow disease will be led by Dr. Ulrich Kihm, the former chief veterinary officer of Switzerland, who now owns Safe Food Solutions, Inc., a private consulting company.

Also on the panel will be Dr. William Hueston, who is the director of the Center of Animal Health and Food Safety at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Dagmar Heim, chief of BSE control in the Swiss Federal Veterinary Office, and Dr. Stuart MacDiarmid, a BSE expert with the New Zealand government.

Also being investigated is the occurrence of BSE in cows younger than 30 months, which are outside the restrictions implemented by the USDA.

DeHaven said that although there have been incidents of cattle younger than 30 months with the disease, two in Japan and two in the European Union, he said there have been questions to the accuracy of the Japanese test results.

He said in 2001 and 2002 the entire European beef market slaughtered was tested for BSE, or about 19 million animals. DeHaven said that one of the cows that tested positive was 28 months old and a second 29 months of age.

"We also know that the incubation period is dose-dependent. The more infectious material that an animal consumes, the shorter the incubation period," said DeHaven.

He said with the new rules banning the sale of meat from "downer" cows for human consumption, there will have to be more work between the Food and Drug Administration and rendering plants, where cows unable to stand will most likely be sent. DeHaven said the FDA will want testing of downer animals that may make it into things like non-ruminant animal feed and pet foods.

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

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