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Bovine spongiform encephalopathy: is it time to relax BSE-related measures in the context of international trade?

Author(s) : D. Matthews & A. Adkin

Summary :

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) has presented serious challenges to both the World Organisation for Animal Health and national governments, in defining and implementing appropriate national control measures, and in agreeing trade rules that permit safe trade in cattle and bovine products. Precautionary trade rules were initially necessary, based upon the science of sheep scrapie, but research into BSE later enabled BSE-specific trade rules to be developed. As a result, current rules on trade are underpinned by a sound body of knowledge on BSE. Declining epidemics in most affected countries confirm the appropriateness of current precautions. Nevertheless, risk is primarily dependent on the prevalence of infection with BSE. In the face of low prevalence scenarios, certain precautionary measures in the Terrestrial Animal Health Code may now be considered excessive. A thorough review is therefore deemed appropriate.
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy – BSE risk – Commodities – Infectivity – Surveillance – Trade.

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