An animal in the United States tested positive in a preliminary screening test for mad cow disease, Agriculture Department officials said. \nJohn Clifford, deputy administrator of USDA veterinary services, said officials learned of the "inconclusive" test result late Friday. The carcass is being sent to USDA National Veterinary Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, for additional tests. Results are expected in 4 to 7 days. \nClifford declined to say whether the animal was a cow, bull or steer or identify its location until testing is complete, noting that it's "very likely" final testing could turn up negative. \n"The animal in question didn't enter the food chain," he said. "If positive, we'll provide additional information on the animal and origins." \nIf the animal tests positive, it would be the second case of mad cow discovered in the United States. In December, a single Holstein on a Washington state farm was found to have the disease, prompting more than 50 countries to ban imports of US beef. Japan and South Korea, two of the biggest export markets for US beef, still have their bans in effect despite the efforts of American officials to get them lifted. \nThe Agriculture Department this month expanded national testing for the disease in response to that mad cow scare, leading to Friday's first "inconclusive" reading in the preliminary test, officials said. More than 7,000 animals so far have been tested under the program, which seeks to check about 220,000 animals over the next year to 18 months. \nThe announcement came late Friday and officials sought to downplay the potential gravity of the preliminary result, which they said wasn't unexpected given the test's sensitivity. The United States' beef trading partners had been notified and the company was given earlier notice, Clifford said. \n"The inconclusive result does not mean we have found another case of BSE in this country," Clifford said. "Inconclusive results are a normal component of most screening tests, which are designed to be extremely sensitive so they will detect any sample that could possibly be positive." \n"The USDA remains confident in the safety of the food supply," Clifford said. \nRepresentatives from the US beef industry also sought to emphasize there was no reason to worry at this initial stage. \n"We hope that the US consumers will recognize that the United States has among the most stringent BSE safeguards in place," said Bill Bullard, chief executive officer of R-CALF USA, a cattlemen's group. "We are encouraging the public to recognize that this is an inconclusive test result." \nMad cow disease _ known also as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE _ eats holes in the brains of cattle. It sprang up in Britain in 1986 and spread through countries in Europe and Asia, prompting massive destruction of herds and decimating the European beef industry. \nA form of mad cow disease can be contracted by humans if they eat infected beef or nerve tissue, and possibly through blood transfusions. Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of mad cow disease, so far has killed 100 people in Britain and elsewhere, including a Florida woman this week who was believed to have contracted the disease in England.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and