For Immediate Release:
December 23, 2003
HAWAII CATTLE UNLIKELY TO BE TRACED TO SUSPECTED BOVINE SPONGIFORM ENCEPHALOPATHY INCIDENT IN WASHINGTON STATE
HONOLULU - Hawaii livestock health officials say that it is highly unlikely that Hawaii livestock will be traced to the farm in Washington State where a dairy cow has preliminarily tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
"Disease surveillance for BSE in Hawaii livestock continues to be a high priority," said Sandra Lee Kunimoto, Chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. "All of the dairy cattle imported to Hawaii in the past 10 years have come from California, a factor that makes it highly unlikely that the disease from that herd would have made its way here."
Hawaii has about 150,000 heads of beef and dairy cattle. Both HDOA and local USDA livestock inspectors conduct surveillance for BSE, as well as other animal diseases, to ensure that Hawaii's livestock are disease free. Hawaii follows the nationally established BSE surveillance protocol, which includes testing of livestock that exhibit neurological symptoms.
At a news conference in Washington, D.C. today, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman reassured the nation about consuming beef. "Despite this finding, we remain confident in the safety of our beef supply," said Veneman. "The risk to human health is extremely low."
For more information on BSE, go to the USDA website at: www.usda.gov.
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