USDA ORDERS CALVES SLAUGHTERED AS PRECAUTION
REUTERS reports a calf from the Washington state dairy cow with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE, is among about 450 calves to be slaughtered as a safety precaution. USDA officials said eliminating the herd of bull calves is to reassure consumers that the U.S. food supply is safe.
The Bush administration also is trying to restore exports to about 25 countries that halted some $3.2 billion in annual U.S. beef shipments after the disease was found last month.
"We have made a decision to depopulate those bull calves sometime this week," USDA Chief Veterinarian Ron DeHaven told reporters. "Approximately 450 animals will be sacrificed."
USDA said that while it was known that the calf of the infected cow was in the herd, officials could not identify the calf precisely, so all calves in the herd were to be destroyed. The planned slaughter leaves at least 4,000 other cattle linked to the mad cow investigation still under quarantine.
The carcasses of all the calves destroyed will be saved in case scientists need to analyze them. No tests to detect the brain-wasting disease are planned at this time, DeHaven said.
"To test all of those brains would not be fruitful," he said. Scientists believe mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), needs at least three years to incubate and DeHaven said the herd was not old enough to show infection.