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Detection of Cysticercus bovis in abattoirs in Northern Ireland between 2001 and 2011
  1. J. McBrien, BSc(Hons), LLB, LLM1 and
  2. E. A. Courcier, BVetMed, BSc, MSc, DipECVPH, PhD2
  1. 1Animal Identification, Legislation and Welfare Branch, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Belfast BT4 3SB, UK
  2. 2Veterinary Epidemiology Unit, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Belfast BT4 3SB, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence: emily.courcier{at}

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Cysticercus bovis is the larval stage of the human beef tapeworm, Taenia saginata. Cattle act as the intermediate host for the parasite. Cattle become infected through access to environments contaminated by infected human faeces, application of sewage to land, or indirectly through mechanical vectors such as birds. Two per cent of the human population of Europe, the definitive hosts, are thought to infested with T saginata (SCVPH 2003) with infection occurring through ingestion of raw or undercooked beef. The routine meat inspection procedure for bovine cysticerosis involves visual inspection of the cut muscles of the split carcase and at several predilection sites after incision (internal and external masseter muscles, tongue, heart and diaphragm) of bovine carcases over six weeks of age (Regulation (EC) No: 854/2004). Total condemnation of the carcase occurs if there is ­generalised or heavy infestation, while light or localised infection leads to condemnation of the infected parts with remainder of the carcase subject to cold storage at temperatures not exceeding −7°C for up to three weeks. The cost of these controls has been estimated at £4 million annually in England. Meat inspection data have shown that the prevalence of bovine cysticercosis in Europe to vary between 0.007 per cent and 6.8 per cent (Cabaret and others 2002).

In April 2006, legislation was repealed allowing the entry of meat from bovine heads to enter the food chain. This led Food Business Operators to request that the two parallel incisions in the external masseter muscles be conducted in such a way that the meat from the masseter muscle could be harvested …

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