Washington — The government is checking a possible new case of mad cow disease, officials said Thursday, rattling the nation's cattle industry, food processors and beef-oriented restaurant chains.
Additional checks are being conducted after initial testing proved inconclusive on the suspect brain tissue. Officials said the animal never entered the food or feed chain.
The Agriculture Department gave no information on the location or origin of the slaughtered animal and said results from advanced tests were not expected before four to seven days.
Ranchers and businesses dependent on beef are still feeling financial effects from the nation's only confirmed case of the fatal brain-wasting disease last December.
And Thursday's announcement sent cattle prices tumbling on fears that foreign markets would remain closed to U.S. beef. Shares of McDonald's, Wendy's and other restaurant chains that feature hamburgers also slumped, as did those of U.S. meat producers.
Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, attacks an animal's nervous system. People who eat food contaminated with BSE can contract variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare disease that is nearly always fatal.
"The inconclusive result does not mean we have found another case of BSE in this country," said Andrea Morgan, associate deputy administrator of the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
The "inconclusive result" was the same term used in June when two potential cases turned out to be false alarms.
|By Roxana HegemanAssociated Press WriterWichita -- An inconclusive test that has officials concerned about a second possible case of mad cow disease in the United States did not come from a Kansas animal, a state official said Thursday.U.S. Agriculture Department released few details about the possible new case of mad cow disease and refused to say where the possibly diseased animal was found.However, Kansas Animal Health Commissioner George Teagarden said, "It's not Kansas."Teagarden said he had not received any calls from federal officials about the case, and that they would have contacted him if the cow had been from Kansas.|