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Contaminated feed ‘most likely source’ of BSE infection
EFSA concluded that contaminated feed is the most likely source of infection
Isolated cases still being reported across the EU

Food safety experts have confirmed that exposure to feed contaminated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is the most likely reason why isolated cases of the disease are still being reported in the EU.

Between 2005 and 2015, some 73 million cattle were tested for BSE in the EU, of which 1,259 tested positive for classical BSE. Of these, 60 were born after 2001, when the EU implemented a ban on the use of animal proteins in livestock feed.

The European Commission asked the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) to investigate the origin of these cases to see if they were caused by contaminated feed, or whether they occurred spontaneously.

EFSA concluded that contaminated feed is the most likely source of infection, because the infectious agent that causes BSE has the ability to remain active for many years.

“Cattle may have been exposed to contaminated feed because the BSE infectious agent as present where feed was stored or handled,” it said in a statement.  “A second possibility is that contaminated feed ingredients may have been imported from non-EU countries.”

Due the the difficulty of investigating individual cases, experts could not rule out other causes. Some constraints are the long incubation period of the disease and the lack of detailed information from farms at the time of the investigation.

In its report, EFSA makes a series of recommendations to maintain and strengthen the EU monitoring and reporting system, and to evaluate new scientific data that become available.

It notes that the number of classical BSE cases has dropped significantly in the EU over time, from 554 cases reported in 2005 to just two in 2015 (born after the ban).

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Scheme to protect wildlife and reduce flooding

News Story 1
 Natural England has announced a new scheme to improve flood protection, boost wildlife and create 160 hectares of new saltmarsh. The £6 million scheme in Lancashire will effectively unite the RSPB’s Hesketh Out Marsh Reserve and Natural England’s Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve. The completed reserve will be the largest site of its kind in the north of England. 

News Shorts
Welfare event to discuss ethical dilemmas faced by vets

Students and ethics experts will host an event on the difficult moral challenges facing vets. Ethical issues, such as euthanasia and breeding animals for certain physical traits, will be discussed by prominent speakers including TV vet Emma Milne and RSPCA chief vet James Yeates. Other topics will include how to tackle suspected animal abuse and the extent of surgical intervention.

The conference will look at how these dilemmas affect the wellbeing of vets, and explore how to better prepare veterinary students for work. It will be held at the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus from 30 September - 1 October 2017. Tickets can be purchased here.