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AG Watch

Mad Cow disease found in Tulare County cow

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The discovery that a Tulare County dairy cow had Mad Cow disease is attracting national attention. But all the news about Mad Cow isn't keeping Patrick Patterson from his double cheese burger. "I don't believe my burger is going to kill me."

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But down the street at an organic vegetarian restaurant, manager Kyle Hamilton told us the customers are: "Talking about they are really happy that they are vegan and vegetarian so they wouldn't have a chance at getting the Mad Cow disease."

The discovery of the disease in one dead dairy cow from Tulare County remains a mystery.

"This type is called atypical Mad Cow and they really don't understand how the cow got it."

Dr. Neal Spiro, a veterinarian in Fresno State's Animal Sciences program believes this is an isolated incident, caught by the governments monitoring program. He doesn't believe it means any other cows from the same dairy are infected.

"It's a disease that's infectious but not contagious. There's no way it's going to transmit from cow to cow."

Much is being made of the fact the infected cow was discovered at a rendering plant, and was not going to be eaten. But that's because it died at the dairy. The plant turns dead animals into household products. While Mad Cow is not carried in milk, most dairy cows eventually do end up as hamburger.

Dr. Richard Besser said, "There's really no precaution you can take unless you are deciding you don't want to eat beef."

But ABC News Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser believes Mad Cow disease has become so rare, there's not a real risk. "I don't think consumers need to be concerned." He adds there are other health threats from beef, like e-coli, but believes it can be safely eaten in moderation. "Red meat can be part of a healthy diet, but you don't want to eat it that often."

And Pat Patterson isn't going to let the latest food scare affect him. "I don't believe the FDA would let me eat bad meat like that. I'm not concerned about it at all."

In past cases cows became infected by eating the remains of other cows that had been ground up for animal feed. That practice has been banned. So until scientists can figure out how this cow got the disease and if other animals are infected questions about the safety of the food supply will remain unanswered.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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