Austrian authorities find mad cow disease in Slovenian cattle

The Austrian health ministry says a case of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), was found in a Slovenian animal that had been brought to the southern city of Graz to be slaughtered, but says there is no risk to consumers.

According to the ministry the infected meat was from an ox from Slovenia, and consumers were not at risk because the animal's remains had been secured and would be incinerated.

The government department is confident that the Austrian BSE supervision programme works in identifying infected animals and removing them from the food chain.

The health ministry says there had been five other cases of BSE in Slovenia in recent years.

It is estimated that one in a million people worldwide is infected with BSE.

In Britain, where most of the deaths related to BSE have occurred, authorities ordered millions of heads of cattle destroyed during the 1980s and 1990s, when BSE swept through its herds.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy is a chronic progressive degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system of cattle. There is no treatment, and affected cattle die.

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