The overall trend and the trend within birth cohorts of the prevalence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle found dead, euthanased or emergency slaughtered on farms in the Bretagne, Basse Normandie and Pays de la Loire regions of France, during the periods from August 7 to December 22 in 2000, 2001 and 2002, were analysed by non-conditional logistic regression, adjusted for the region and for the type of animals. The overall prevalence of BSE during these three periods decreased from 2.71 per 1000 in 2000 to 1.41 per 1000 in 2001 and 0.42 per 1000 in 2002. The prevalence within birth cohorts started to decrease for the cohort born between July 1, 1995 and June 30, 1996 (cohort 95/96) and the trend was reinforced for cohort 96/97, suggesting that the exposure of animals to the BSE agent had started to decrease for animals born after July 1995, that is, one year before the ban on specified risk materials in meat and bone meal was implemented in France. However, considering that most of the animals would have been infected at between six and 18 months of age, the decrease may have been due, at least partly, to this control measure.
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