For almost 50 years, scientists at a secret laboratory on Plum Island off Long Island in New York have studied live foot-and-mouth virus. If released, the virus would devastate the 45 million dollar U.S. livestock industry.

“Here at Plum Island, we are in a constant state of readiness 7 days a week, 365 days a year, heightened even more now that our neighbor Britain has the disease in earnest,” says veterinarian Thomas McKenna.
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British scientists are beginning to seriously consider a new theory about the cause of Mad Cow Disease, proposed by organic farmer Mark Purdey, who feels that the conventional explanation-that BSE is caused by animals beingfed infected meat and bone meal-is wrong.

Purdey believes that Mad Cow Disease is caused by cattle being exposed to high levels of the metal manganese, as well as a common insecticide, phosmet. He also believes that people who are exposed to these substances are susceptible to CJD, the human form of BSE.
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Federal officials have seized a flock of 234 sheep in Vermont that they fear may be infected with a version of Mad Cow Disease. This is the first seizure of any U.S. farm animals. The Agriculture Department says that the sheep, imported from Belgium, could be carrying a form of the disease.

The sheep were taken to federal laboratories in Iowa, so samples of their brains can be removed and studied.

A second flock of 140 sheep will also be seized. ?We assume they?re coming tonight,? said Linda Faillace, standing in her small barn, surrounded by several dozen sheep. She said she felt ?anger, frustration, disbelief.?
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Britain’s blazing foot and mouth funeral pyres risk giving people the human form of Mad Cow Disease, the British government admitted.

The carcasses of animals found to have hoof and mouth disease are being burned in order to stop the spread of the disease to other livestock. However, there is a risk that the smoke from these fires may spread the prion that causes both BSE and CJD and that these prions may also get into the water supplies. There is also the risk that E.coli and salmonella could be released.

Joyce Quin, an agriculture minister, has admitted that there was a possibility that “small numbers” of the cattle “may be in the pre-clinical stage of BSE and may harbor some of the BSE agent.”
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