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Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Volume 164: debated on Monday 18 December 1989

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has recorded any incidence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle born since animal proteins were withdrawn from cattle rations.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many cattle his Ministry is currently monitoring to assess the possible vertical transmission of bovine spongiform encephalopathy; what the parameters are of this research; and if he will make a statement on progress of the research to date.

Three hundred and thirty progeny of BSE-affected dams and the same number of control animals are being monitored on three of the Ministry's experimental husbandry farms. The study is designed to determine whether maternal transmission occurs either in utero and/or in the immediate period after birth and, if so, at what incidence. The animals will be maintained on experimental husbandry farms until seven years of age unless death or the need to cull intervenes. The brains of all animals will be examined histopathologically and all carcases will be destroyed. Because of the long incubation period for this disease, results will not be forthcoming for some time.