Mad Cow investigators say next few days “critical” for assessing crisis

OTTAWA,(June 4, 2003) — Investigators sifting through test results on an additional 460 animals said they should have a better idea of the scope of mad cow disease in the next day or so.

“The next 36 hours will be very critical time frames for us in terms of both the quantity and the significance of the test results we will be receiving,” Dr. Brian Evans of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said in Ottawa earlier this week.

The results of the on-going investigation are critical in getting the U.S. and other world markets to lift a beef ban that has crippled the beef and livestock industry over the last two weeks. The ban was ordered when a single cow in Alberta was found to contain bovine spongiform encephalopathy, more commonly referred to as mad cow disease. Since then investigators have been scrambling to locate the cow’s origins and if it had infected any other cattle. The CFIA did not make it clear what will happen if the sick cow’s birth farm cannot be pinpointed.

Fourteen farms in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia were still under quarantine because of believed links to the animal, but Evans suggested between three and six farms could be removed from the list later this week.

The ban is expected to cost the cattle and beef industry between $20 and $27 million a day. The number factors in lost exports, as well as plant closures, and overall economic impact to businesses that rely on the industry such as trucking.

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