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Second mad cow case confirmed in Japan

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Second mad cow case confirmed in Japan

November 20, 2001 Posted: 10:30 PM EST (0330 GMT)


TOKYO, Japan -- A second case of mad cow disease has been discovered in Japan.


The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry on Wednesday said it had confirmed the country's second case of the brain-wasting disease in an animal on the country's northernmost island, Hokkaido.


The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on September 22 confirmed Japan's initial case of the deadly disease, the first outside Europe.


The latest cow confirmed infected with the disease was found at a meat inspection center in Hokkaido and its birthplace is not yet known, a health ministry official was quoted as saying by Japan's Kyodo news agency.


However, he also said the ministry's veterinarians were performing a more reliable test on the cow's brain tissue.


National broadcaster NHK television reported that the parts of the animal had not been shipped for sale and would be burned after the tests.


Sales slump

Mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, is believed to spread by recycling meat and bones from infected animals back into cattle feed.


The illness, which has ravaged Europe's cattle industry, is thought to cause the fatal variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob sickness in humans who eat infected meat.


Since the first discovery of mad cow in Japan, believed to have emanated from contaminated feed, the government has banned imports and use of feed made from recycled animal bone and meat and begun mandatory inspection before marketing.


Last month, top Japanese officials declared homegrown beef safe to eat after conducting a nationwide screening of the nation's cattle herds.


Domestic meat sales, however, have remained depressed, and butchers and beef restaurants have struggled to win back jittery customers.

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