Thursday, August 17, 2006

vCJD Transmission Study

A recent study in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface suggests that vCJD (variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease) might be spread by improperly sterilized surgical instruments. This has been suspected for a while, but this study shows that there's a correlation between the number of times a particular instrument is being used, the cleaning method, the type of instrument (some are more easily "infected"), and the scale of a local vCJD outbreak. Infection Control Today (which has the best website name ever) has more:
The authors begin by presenting data on the surgical procedures undertaken on vCJD patients prior to the onset of clinical symptoms which support the hypothesis that cases via this route are possible. They then apply a mathematical framework to assess the potential for self-sustaining epidemics via surgical procedures.

They conclude that further research is needed into how surgical instruments are used so as to reduce uncertainty and assess the potential risk of this transmission route.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Manitoban Mad Cow Not Made Into Burgers

So it turns out that the Canadian cow that was found to have BSE last month never entered the food supply. Straight from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's own site:
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has concluded its epidemiological investigation of the case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) confirmed on July 3, 2006 in a cow from Manitoba. No part of the animal’s carcass entered the human food or animal feed chains.
An interesting thing I didn't realize: the cow was 16 years old.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Getting a Shipment, Checking it Twice

The Japanese Ministry of Agricultural, Forestry and Fisheries will be definitely making a list if it turns out anyone's been naughty with their beef shipments. The first shipment of beef since that box of spines was found back in January is being shipped over to the Japanese arm of Costco (they have Costco's in Japan?). As always, Bloomberg has the scoop
The first shipment since the ban was ended on July 28 arrived yesterday at Narita International Airport, east of Tokyo, the farm ministry's statement said.

Japanese inspectors checked U.S. meatpackers and approved 34 as exporters to Japan after the U.S. pressed Japan to re-open its market.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Mad Cow Testing To Be Reduced

Apparently the poor and spotty BSE testing in the US has produced far fewer cases than everyone feared, so the Agriculture Department has decided to just cut back on testing even further. This is interesting, especially since the USDA doesn't let farms and farmers perform testing on their own. The St. Pete Times has more
The current testing level - 1,000 each day - reflects the heightened concern that followed the discovery in December 2003 of mad cow disease in the United States.


"It's time that our surveillance efforts reflect what we now know is a very, very low level of BSE in the United States," Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said. "There is no significant BSE problem in the United States, and after all of this surveillance, I am able to say there never was."