Europe Spends Millions on Animal Disease Testing

BRUSSELS, Belgium, October 17, 2001 (ENS) - The European Commission has approved a multi-million euro () financial package to fight transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) such as mad cow disease and other animal diseases next year across the 15 nation European Union.

Scrapie, brucellosis, tuberculosis, rabies and salmonellosis will be the main targets in the EU's 2002 disease eradication program.

The European Union (EU) budget will contribute 114 million for financing the test kits to monitor scrapie and mad cow disease, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

In total, in the year 2002, between seven and eight million animals will be tested for BSE.

cows

Cows in the UK (Photo courtesy Freefoto.com)
The EU will contribute 40.45 million from its resources in the veterinary field for the eradication and monitoring of 13 major animal diseases in the EU Member States.

The 20 member Commission also adopted funding provisions for eradicating and preventing zoonoses, species-jumping infectious agents. Programs of checks aimed at the prevention of zoonoses are included in the budget list.

Commenting on the decisions, David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection said, "Testing programs are a successful and important instrument to identify the scale of BSE and scrapie in the European Union. The introduction of the compulsory BSE test has proven how important they are to detect BSE in cattle to keep infected animals out of the food and feed chain in addition to safety legislation."

Byrne

European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection David Byrne (Photo courtesy European Commission)
The commissioner called the animal disease eradication program, "a reflection of our commitment to continue the EU's efforts to improve the health status of the EU's livestock which is important from the point of view of protecting animal health and which will in turn be to the advantage of human health."

Since January 1 2001, all cattle for human consumption older than 30 months and a random sample of dead-on-farm cattle have to be tested for BSE.

From July 1, onwards the obligatory test has been extended to all dead-on-farm cattle and emergency slaughtered cattle over 24 months.

Healthy slaughtered animals over 30 months will be subject to random sampling in Member States with a lower BSE risk - Austria, Finland and Sweden - or which exclude all over 30 months old animals from the food chain (UK).

As of January 1, 2002, random post mortem testing of sheep and goats over 18 months from healthy animals at slaughter and from fallen stock will be introduced.

The eradication of brucellosis in sheep and goats in the southern EU countries where the disease occurs has been budgeted for 10.25 million. This disease causes Malta fever in humans, which has plagued the Mediterranean region since Biblical times, the commission says.

Bovine brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis are also known to be transmitted to humans so that significant sums will be used to combat the remaining cases of these diseases.