Mad Cow Disease in New England ???!!! : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Has anyone any further imformation on the news out of New England of the USDA destroying sheep because of the possiblilty of Mad Cow Disease. Saw on Good Morning America that they had a "test" done and only think that this may be something to be concerned about. The sheep in question, as I understand it, are sheep that were imported from Europe and have never been mixed with any local livestock at all. The PhD farmer that has these sheep said the the test was an experimental test and the results were thrown out before a second testing could be done. Suppose to take all of his sheep for slaughter and testing as they have already done to another farmer in New England. I am not too, too, concerned about the disease in itself as I probably am "foolishly" thinking my government will protect me from any problems. ( no laughing please ?!) but to the legal aspects of taking farmers means of living on an experimental test. I surely don't want this disease in this country but what does anyone else think about this ?? Couldn't they just keep the sheep on the farmers property and quartine them until further testing is done ?? Let me know !!

-- Helena Di Maio (, March 22, 2001


Go up a little to the thread "Federal agents to seize sheep (Vermont, scrapies?)" where this is being discussed. (Assuming you mean scrapies rather than MCD)

-- Lynn Goltz (, March 22, 2001.

Helena.... can't I laugh.... Just a little???? PLEASE

All kidding aside. Don't like what they're doing for more legal reasons, but they are just the same. Hope it stops there....

-- Sue Diederich (, March 22, 2001.

I'm undecided on this one... Mad Cow isn't contagious until the tissue is eaten. The animals could have safely remained on the farm until all legal proceedings were done. If USDA had some reason to believe the farmer -- knowing he is being watched, mind you -- was going to butcher and sell the meat, then I would agree with the immediate seizure. But that wasn't the case.

Admittedly, the USDA is in a bind here. These animals came from Great Britain and may be infected. To test for Mad Cow, the animals have to be killed (in order to sample the brain tissue). The prions (very small pieces of protein, smaller than viruses) that cause the infection are VERY difficult to test for and won't appear in blood. Killing the sheep in the field would have been problematic at the very least. Mainly, I think it would have created a news spectacle and panic among the public, not to mention PETA protests. Secondly, they have the issue of disposing of the carcasses and keeping them from being eaten by wildlife, etc. (Can you imagine images of burning caracasses with mad cow on CNN?) In addition, sampling of the brain tissue exposes the person doing the sampling to infectious agents; their workers could be better protected in a laboratory setting than on the farm. I agree with the USDA's decision to transport the animals live to a more controlled setting -- but feel they should have waited until after legal proceedings were settled.

As far as whether this one is potentially serious ... it is. USDA should be commended for acting quickly. Mad Cow can incubate for 30 years inside a person. The British government's failure to recognize the problem early may mean there are thousands of people that have the disease and won't know it until they show symptoms (i.e. holes and placques in their brain, neural and pyschological problems). USDA acted quick in this case -- which may be good for us in the long run, protecting public health, and may have prevented an unnecessary public backlash and panic against the meat industry.

-- Michael Nuckols (, March 22, 2001.

Hauled those babies off this morning! Word is, it'll take up to 2 years after they kill and run tests on them before they know. Sheep were imported in 1996, and show no signs of the disease yet. Farmers are a bit upset. There are a lot of politicians that act worse than the craziest animal I have ever encountered! Perhaps we should euthanize and test them, "just in case!" GL!

-- Brad (, March 22, 2001.


Some clarifications on your posting.

These are dairy sheep and were never intended to enter the food supply. They are valued for their high quality milk, which produces high quality, premium-priced cheeses.

There were two remaining herds in VT. The one in which four sheep tested postitive a couple of years ago, based on questionable testing procedures, have been seized and are on their way to death. The second herd has not yet been seized and the USDA may be backing off on them a bit. They have been certified as scrapie-free for five years.

USDA is when they after they were birthed in Belgium (not Britian) they may, absolutely no records they were, but may have been fed with MCD-infested MBM.

There is absolutely no, absolutely no, evidence scrapie has every been transmitted to mankind.

There is no absolute evidence feeding MBM from scrapie-infested sheep directly caused MCD in Britian. Nor MCD disease directly caused vCJD humans. It seems a lot of scientists are backing off the original conclusion it was directly due to rogue prions.

The USDA position is apparently they had to kill at least the first two flock (of three) to save them. Wasn't there a saying in Vietnam about, "In order to save the village, we had to destroy it"? Should the test in Iowa show no TSE, the USDA is going to look pretty foolish.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (, March 22, 2001.

I appreciate the clarifications... There is a lot of media propaganda misinformation spreading.

MSNBC has a decent article I read shortly before reading your post that confirms much of what you've said. .

The one thing that I did not realize was that the government offered $2.4 million for the animals. Still, it's depressing and it seems there could have been a more equitable solution.

-- Michael Nuckols (, March 22, 2001.

Update: The USDA is coming Friday morning (3/23/01) to get the rest of these dairy sheep. Was a bit of hope, but the cause now appears to be lost. The U.S. imports about 40,000 tons, yes tons, of sheep- milk based cheeses each year and has virtually no domestic production. Apparently the USDA may be retaliating for the publicity and court battles still pending (next hearing was to be April 10th - less than three weeks away). One really has to wonder if they want to destroy the evidence of their bureaucratic abuses before that hearing - and this said as an ex-bureaucrat.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (, March 22, 2001.

Remember: "In order to save the village, we had to destroy it.

"Vermont Sheep Arrive at Iowa Lab

By VALLIANT G. CORLEY .c The Associated Press

AMES, Iowa (AP) - A flock of 234 Vermont sheep the government fears were exposed to mad cow disease arrived Thursday at the nation's premier veterinary laboratory, where they will be killed and their brains tested.

``It is extremely critical that we have an accurate diagnosis of the disease,'' said Dr. William Buisch, acting director of the National Veterinary Services Laboratory.

``We want to be sure that they were not carrying any disease agent that might be of concern to our public, to the safety of the food that we eat in this country,'' he said.

The Agriculture Department seized the sheep Wednesday from a farm in Vermont and transported them in two ventilated trucks under police escort.

Agriculture Department spokesman Ed Curlett said the seizure was the first of any cow or sheep in the United States suspected of having an illness related to mad cow disease.

The USDA has said four dead sheep from the flock showed signs of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, a class of neurological diseases that includes bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, and scrapie, a sheep disease not harmful to humans.

The earlier tests could not confirm whether the sheep have BSE, so further testing was arranged at the laboratory in Ames.

There have been no confirmed cases of mad cow disease in the United States, although the disease has decimated the livestock industry in parts of Europe.

The human version of BSE has killed almost 100 people in Britain and other European countries since 1995. It is thought to be transmitted to humans through eating meat of diseased animals, and to have an incubation period of 10 to 20 years.

The Vermont sheep are highly unusual and valuable East Friesians. They were not being raised for their wool or their meat, but for their rich milk, used in making exotic cheeses.

The flock was purchased in the Netherlands and Belgium before a ban was imposed in 1996 to protect U.S. sheep from mad cow disease.

On the Net:


USDA on Vermont sheep:

AP-NY-03-22-01 1912EST

-- Ken S. in WC TN (, March 22, 2001.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night and turned on the radio...Art Bell had someone on discussing this and I couldn't sleep all night! I guess I had better go to his web page and figure out what was going on! Everything in the middle of the night sounds so dire!

I can tell you that I thought a lot about my sheep today and I spent a lot of time with them tonight at feeding time...

-- sheepish (WA) (, March 22, 2001.

Thank you, Ken, for giving everyone some very accurate and pertinent information .As you know, I am friends of the Faillices, owners of the remaining flock that will be seized this morning. They have put up an incredible fight and I admire them for this. I am afraid that with the sheep now bieng seized and destroyed, that there will be no hearing that was sheduled before the 2nd Circuit Federal Court on April 10th. I guess the USDA was able to circumvent the judicial system after all and made itself the judge, jury and executioner. Sad and scary.

-- Kate henderson (, March 23, 2001.

This basically means the U.S. will never have a signficant dairy sheep milk-based cheese industry.USDA Seizes Second Flock of Sheep Animals Will Be Slaughtered, Tested for Mad Cow Disease

By WILSON RING .c The Associated Press

EAST WARREN, Vt. (March 23) - Federal agents arrived at a farm early Friday and began seizing a second flock of Vermont sheep suspected of having been exposed to a form of mad cow disease.

The owners had fought to keep the flock, urging officials to first complete tests on the other confiscated sheep, but their request was denied.

At dawn Friday, police accompanied agents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture past about two dozen protesters. Some protesters wore on their faces red dye similar to that put on sheep being hauled away.

The 125 East Friesian milking sheep will be taken to a USDA veterinary laboratory in Iowa to be killed and their brains tested for one of a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, or TSEs, a class of neurological diseases that includes both bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, and scrapie, a sheep disease not harmful to humans.

The first flock, 234 sheep seized Wednesday from a farm in Greensboro, reached the USDA lab on Thursday.

''We are very sympathetic to the owners. This is very difficult for them. This is very difficult for us as well. However, it is our duty, it is our mission to protect American agriculture,'' said USDA spokesman Ed Curlett.

Owner Larry Faillace said his family was cooperating with agents, but not helping them in hauling away the sheep.

''We've never had a positive result on this farm,'' Faillace said as agents loaded sheep onto a truck. The government ''has never wanted to do anything except kill these animals.''

Three Faillace children - Jackie, Francis and Heather - each held small lambs born just recently and marked with red dye, holding them up for reporters.

''This is not justice,'' said Francis Faillace. ''Where are our rights?''

The government says some of the sheep may have been exposed to mad cow disease through contaminated feed before they were imported from Europe in 1996.

Nearly 100 people in Europe have died of the human form of BSE since 1995, but no cases have been confirmed in the United States.

Although they aren't sure whether the Vermont sheep are infected, USDA officials have argued that even the remote chance that they could be carrying a mad cow variant poses too great a risk.

Thursday evening, friends and neighbors gathered to hold a candlelight vigil for the sheep.

The Faillaces have maintained throughout a two-year legal battle with the USDA that there is little solid scientific evidence that the sheep have TSE.

In a separate case, federal officials are monitoring two cows in Minnesota for signs of mad cow disease, although they have shown no symptoms, said Linda Detwiler, the U.S. Agriculture Department's chief expert on mad cow disease.

The cows are being monitored because the USDA doesn't know whether they were given feed contaminated with the disease before they were imported at least five years ago, apparently from the Netherlands.

The USDA had traced the cows years ago and quarantined them, Detwiler said.

Detwiler said she believes that in addition to the two Minnesota cows, 22 cows were imported to Texas and four to Vermont.

AP-NY-03-23-01 0844EST

-- Ken S. in WC TN (, March 23, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ