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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

New case of mad cow disease found in California

A cow stands with others in DeWitt, Neb., Wednesday, April 25, 2012. The beef industry responded swiftly after the first new case of mad cow disease was found in the U.S. since 2006. With billions of dollars at risk, the USDA and other government officials quickly explained that consumers were never at risk because none of the animal’s meat was bound for the food supply. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

The United States Department of Agriculture reported a new case of mad cow disease in California earlier last week. This is the fourth case found in the United States since 2006, according to the government agency.

A Hanford, California raised cow was found to be the culprit in spreading the disease. Workers tested the animal in random sampling, although they have not yet confirmed which farm it was retrieved from.

According to the USDA, the diseased cow was immediately removed from all aspects of production and withheld from slaughter.

The cow’s carcass will soon be destroyed, according to the same report.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said mad cow disease, or bovine encephalopathy (BSE), is a mutation of regular proteins. Byproducts of this irregularity affect humans only through eating the animal’s flesh (i.e. beef).

Paul Biedrzycki, director of Disease Control and Environmental Health for Milwaukee, said that although no reported cases have been found in the city, he fully recognizes the severity in controlling such a serious health hazard. He said that should a recall of infectious meat occur in Wisconsin, he would track what products have been distributed throughout the state in order to reduce the risk of producing illnesses.

“My job is to work with the Department of Agriculture in quickly and aggressively controlling a problem,” Biedrzycki said. “Some effects of mad cow disease are very serious and degenerative in humans.”

In agreement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration claims dangerous and immediate symptoms of contracting the disease include swelling of the brain, which results in a loss of mental and physical control.

Biedrzycki added that the primary exposure to such effects was first found in the United Kingdom, although citizens in the United States could be impacted, too.

“It is so statistically rare to find mad cow disease in the states,” Biedrzycki said. “It is likely not just cattle-to-cattle transmission – there is usually a genetic mutation involved.”

James Algarenga, a bartender at Sobelman’s @ Marquette, said an outbreak of mad cow disease in Wisconsin could have serious ramifications for businesses like his.

“We’d have to stop selling our burgers (if they came from infected areas),” Algarenga said. “Business would likely slow down, and people wouldn’t come in as often.”

Algarenga added that although Sobelman’s beef comes from Michigan, the aforementioned disease may still cause panic among customers due to the obvious correlation of the meat (regardless of source) and sicknesses.

While only one animal caused this new scare, Julia DeBella, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, said she worries that such a situation could be found in Wisconsin.

“Wisconsin is so well known for its dairy that if something like this (mad cow disease) happened here, I don’t know how well it could be controlled,” DeBella said.

However, according to the USDA website, mad cow disease cannot be found in milk sources, so dairy-only producers are safe.

Regardless, DeBella added that contaminated beef in Wisconsin would serve as an awful hit to campus dining.

“There really aren’t many options except burger meat,” DeBella said. “Even if a case was never found here, I’d have the idea of it contaminating this food stuck in my head.”

Biedrzycki said while only one animal was reported as infectious, the situation sheds light on an important health hazard.

“These findings show us the possibilities of health issues within this country,” Biedrzycki said. ” It makes us think about our health food restrictions and if maybe certain aspects should be watched more closely.”

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