Agricultural Groups Try to Contain Mad Cow Fears

Agricultural groups across the country are trying to prevent public panic after the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a case of mad cow disease in California, the first reported case in the United States in about six years.

The first reported case of mad cow in over half a decade has American consumers and American cattle ranchers worried about the potential health risks and a public backlash. Mad cow can be quite contagious in the cattle population, leading some farmers to worry about the health of their herds. At the height of the mad cow scare in the United Kingdom, millions of cows were killed in an attempt to contain the disease.

In addition to the economic cost, some consumers are worried about potential health risks to a mad cow outbreak. Consumption of infected meat can sometimes lead to a variant of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, a fatal, degenerative brain disease.

Health officials, however, are trying to quell potential panic. Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease caused by consumption of mad cow beef is incredibly rare. As of October 2009, 166 people have died of it in the UK, which has been hit hardest by mad cow disease.

In addition, agricultural groups are reassuring consumers that there are several layers of protections in place to keep tainted meat away from the market. The infected cow in question has already been killed and quarantined, and veterinarians, who routinely check cattle headed for market, are currently on the lookout for the disease.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer