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Second Mad-Cow Case Found in U.S.

I’m Faith Lapidus with the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

The United States has its second confirmed case of mad cow disease.

The first case was found in December of two thousand three in Washington state. But it involved an animal imported from Canada. This time, officials say it was a twelve-year-old cow born and raised in Texas.

It was born before nineteen ninety-seven, when the government banned feeding the remains of cattle to other cattle. The disease can spread that way. But Agriculture Department officials now say genetic tests on cows from the same group as the infected one have found no other cases.

Officials noted that the cow in Texas did not enter the food supply. It was brought dead last November to a pet food company. Employees took brain tissue and sent it to a state laboratory.

The test results proved nothing. So tests took place at the Agriculture Department laboratory in Ames, Iowa. These showed that the cow was not infected.

Then, in the middle of June, the inspector general of the department ordered a third test. The results led officials to send the tissue for more study at a top laboratory in Weybridge, England. On June twenty-fourth Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced the finding of mad cow disease.

His department has tested four hundred thousand cattle since June of last year. He says one case out of that many shows an "extremely, extremely low" presence of the disease in the United States.

Still, Mister Johanns ordered officials to develop new rules for the testing process. Critics point to mistakes which delayed confirmation of the disease.

After the first case in two thousand three, major importers placed restrictions on American beef. As of the end of June, sixty-four countries had complete or partial bans.

Top importer Japan as well as South Korea, China and Taiwan continue to ban all American beef. Canada and Mexico have partial bans. The United States Meat Export Federation, a trade group, says exports fell eighty-six percent last year.

The scientific name for mad cow disease is bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or B.S.E. A form of this brain-wasting disease can infect people. Most of the cases have been reported in Britain. Scientists there blame the disease for at least one hundred fifty deaths in the last ten years.

This VOA Special English Agriculture Report was written by Mario Ritter. Our reports are online at I'm Faith Lapidus.