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Still a risk of mad cows? The need for epidemiological studies
  1. Giuseppe Ru, DVM, PhD, MSE
  1. BEAR – Biostatistica, Epidemiologia e Analisi del Rischio, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Piemonte, Liguria e Valle d’Aosta, via Bologna 148, 10154 Torino, Italy
  1. e-mail:{at}

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GOOD news comes from the recently published ‘Report on the monitoring and testing of ruminants for the presence of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy in the EU in 2010’ (EC 2011). The overall number of BSE cases in the European Union (EU) in 2010 was 45, that is, about one-third of the 125 cases observed in 2008 and only 70 per cent of those detected in 2009. The same trend is evident for the EU-wide prevalence of the disease (cases per 10,000 animals tested): down from 2.55 to 0.06 over a 10-year period. The second piece of good news is that the new cases are increasingly older, suggesting that what we are now seeing is the detection of BSE cases mainly resulting from exposure during the 1990s or before January 2001, when a reinforced ban on the use of meat and bone meal (MBM) extending to all farm animals went into effect at the EU level.

The reinforced ban in the UK was introduced five years earlier, when it became clear that cross-contamination in feedmills might have accounted for a large part of the British cases of BSE. Up to the mid-1990s, the …

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