September 30, 2013 at 11:26 pm #520MikeKeymaster
By The Journal
The Government is looking into the unexplained death of 21 cattle –
one in Cumbria – as “a matter of urgency” amid fears there may be a
mystery virus which could be passed on to humans.
An investigation was triggered by the death of a milking heifer late
last year, which died after suffering paralysis over a five to six-
The death of the young cow could not be attributed to any known
cattle disease and has sparked fears that an unknown condition could
be in circulation.
None of the cows in contact with the stricken heifer was found to be
suffering and remain healthy.
The death of the cow on a farm in Cumbria was brought to the
attention of the UK Zoonosis Group at a meeting in April.
The group discusses diseases and infections which can be transmitted
between animal and humans.
After consideration of the heifer’s death and 20 other “similar”
cases across 13 farms in England over the last 10 years, the issue
was referred to the Department of Health.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) was asked to carry out a risk
assessment of all 21 deaths as “a matter of urgency which should be
completed over the next couple of weeks”.
The Department for Environmental and Rural Affairs (Defra) said
numerous tests were carried out on the heifer but none proved
It was initially thought that the cow had botulism but tests were
Testing on the animal at the Veterinary Laboratory Agency (VLA) in
Penrith showed microscopy lesions which suggested a viral infection
in the brain.
Defra said there was no evidence of a transmissible Bovine Spongiform
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