Thirteenth mad cow case confirmed

The health ministry confirmed Thursday that an 8-year-old slaughtered Holstein cow in Nara Prefecture was infected with mad cow disease, making it the nation’s 13th case, according to ministry officials.

The Nara Prefectural Government conducted on-site inquiries the same day at dairy farms in Shinjo, where the cow was found, and ordered them to restrict the transfer of a total of 23 cows under the Domestic Animal Infectious Diseases Control Law.

The Nara government also began investigating the likely infection routes and examining other cows for possible infection of the brain-wasting disease, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

The cow, the oldest of all Japan’s confirmed cases to date, was born at a farm in Shihoro, Hokkaido, in February 2004, before being taken to Nara.

Also Thursday, the Hokkaido Prefectural Government restricted the transfer of 144 cows kept at the Shihoro farm and will check their breeding records and examine feed used there.

The latest cow tested positive Wednesday for abnormal prion protein, believed to be the chief cause of BSE, at a meat distribution center in Nara.

In Thursday’s test, the cow’s brain was found to have air vessels, a typical symptom of BSE.

The experts concluded their diagnosis by checking the results of the tests circulated by e-mail. They did not hold a meeting this time, saying the case was “a typical BSE case,” the ministry officials said.