Science, policy forum focuses on 'mad cow' and related diseases

(Blacksburg, Va.) -- More than 20 countries have confirmed cases of the always fatal, prion-caused "mad cow disease." In addition, approximately 143 people have died around the world from the always fatal, prion-caused variant Creutzfeldt - Jakob disease, which is primarily contracted by eating meat from infected "Mad Cows."

Twelve states, two Canadian provinces, and South Korea have reported another always fatal, prion-caused disease in deer and elk: chronic wasting disease (CWD).

These and other related diseases will be the focus of a Ceres Forum, Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies in Animal and Human Health: The Science and the Policy, on March 8-9 at the Marriot at Metro Center, Washington D. C.

The forum, organized and moderated by the Center for Food and Nutrition Policy (CFNP) at Virginia Tech, will feature scientific experts, top government regulators, involved policymakers, trade association representatives, industry leaders, plus other public and private stakeholders. Forum participants will discuss and compare current policies with the existing science of infectious prions, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or "mad cow disease" in cattle), variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD in people who are exposed to the infectious agent that causes BSE), and chronic wasting disease (CWD in deer and elk).

George M. Gray, Executive Director of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis at Harvard University and one of the Forum's key speakers, says, "This conference brings together BSE science and policy at a key time, as we consider U.S. responses to our first case of mad cow disease."

"The current situations with mad cow disease and chronic wasting disease are becoming more complex with time. Both have negative economic consequences in the United States and elsewhere," says Sharron Quisenberry, dean of Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Maureen L. Storey, director of the Center fo

Contact: Mary Ann Johnson
Virginia Tech

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