A slaughtered 21-month-old cow in Hiroshima Prefecture has been confirmed to be infected with mad cow disease, the health ministry said Tuesday. It is the ninth such case in Japan.

The Holstein bull was slaughtered Wednesday at a slaughterhouse in Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture. Tissue samples tested positive for the disease both in primary and in more detailed examinations at the Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo, ministry officials said.

The bull was younger than any of the eight previously declared cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, said the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, which convened a panel of experts Tuesday afternoon to make a final determination on the latest case.

The finding of the eighth case, in Ibaraki Prefecture, early last month shocked the beef and dairy industry because the cow was unusually young to become infected — at 23 months old — and had an unreported pattern of abnormal protein particles.

Prior to that, a 64-month-old cow had been the youngest diagnosed with mad cow disease in Japan.

Ministry officials earlier said it is rare for cows under 24 months old to be diagnosed with the disease.

The Holstein was born in January 2002 in Hyogo Prefecture and had been raised in Fukuyama, the ministry said.

The experts said there is no link between the latest case and that of the previously unknown type of mad cow disease found in Ibaraki Prefecture. The Holstein in that case exhibited a reported pattern of abnormal protein particles.

Japan’s first mad cow case was confirmed in September 2001 in Chiba Prefecture. The others turned up in Hokkaido, Gunma, Kanagawa and Wakayama prefectures.

Since the first case was detected, all slaughtered cows have been checked for the disease before the meat is authorized for consumption.

Last month, a farm ministry panel said the source of the outbreak in Japan was either cows imported from Britain in the 1980s or Italian-made meat-and-bone-meal used as feed and imported before 1990.

Sale of the meat-and-bone meal was banned October 2001. The Hiroshima cow, however, was born after the ban was introduced.

The city of Fukuyama shut down the slaughterhouse following the discovery of the mad cow case, and the Hiroshima Prefectural Government asked the farmer who raised the cow to refrain from shipping other cattle from his herd to market.

The prefecture will inspect other cows raised at the farm.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.