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Swiss authorities report decline of mad cow disease

The Federal Veterinary Office says that mad cow disease in Switzerland is on the decline, despite figures for 1999 which are higher than the year before.

This content was published on January 3, 2000 - 16:50

The Federal Veterinary Office says that mad cow disease in Switzerland is on the decline, despite figures for 1999 which are higher than the year before.

Twenty-five clinical cases of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) were discovered up until December 24, compared to 14 cases in 1998. Another 24 cases of mad cow disease were reported last year in tests conducted under a new surveillance programme.

Despite the marked increase, the federal authorities say there is no cause for alarm.

"The long-term trend is quite clear. BSE in Switzerland is on the decline," said Veterinary Office specialist Dagmar Heim.

Heim explains that the higher numbers last year can be explained by the new control programme, more media coverage on the subject and the possibility that some cases were not reported in earlier years.

Heim says he is confident that the goal of eradicating the disease by the year 2003 can be achieved.

In 1990, Swiss authorities banned the use of animal fodder. This leads them to believe that cases of BSE in cows born in 1997 and after are now unlikely.

"An isolated case is possible," added Heim, "because the incubation period could exceptionally exceed the normal five years."

However, among the cases diagnosed, there were no animals born after tougher controls introduced in 1996.

From staff and wire reports


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