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The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that from now on, it will perform two tests on bovine brain tissue suspected of being infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), better known as mad cow disease, and only inform the public if one of the two tests is inconclusive.

Previous to this change, USDA would inform the public when an initial screening was inconclusive and then send the brain tissue out for a single test.

The first case of mad cow disease in the US was discovered last December in Washington State; the USDA says that these changes in testing programs is part of its “enhanced surveillance” program.

In unrelated mad-cow news, USA Today reports this morning that there has been a case in the UK of the disease being spread through a blood transfusion – the second such case in less than a year.

While few details have been released to this point, press reports are that this new case actually is a previously unseen genetic variation on the disease, which could raise questions about conventional wisdom held about the disease’s incubation period.
KC's View:
It sounds as if USDA is trying to be both twice as sure and a little less open about inconclusive results.

We guess that makes sense. Though we would hate to think that USDA is trying to minimize concerns about mad cow because of the impact it seems to have on the nation’s beef industry.