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Sweden Detects First Mad Cow Case

February 24, 2001

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ Sweden detected its first possible case of mad cow disease late Friday in a heifer from the southwestern part of the country, but officials said they were confident that further testing would show the animal was free of the disease.

The Agriculture Ministry said in a statement that a routine test done on a slaughtered 28-month-old milk cow that had suffered damage to its spine determined that it was possibly infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, as mad cow disease formally is known.

Brain tissue samples from the cow will be sent to a British laboratory for further testing, with results expected in about two weeks, the ministry said. Sweden also was repeating its own tests to double-check them.

Government officials expressed confidence that the final results would show the animal was not infected with BSE but said they would treat it as a real case in the meantime.

``It will be a couple of weeks before we will know with certainty,″ Agriculture Minister Margareta Winberg said in a statement. ``Until then, we will handle things as if the test was positive.″

The Scandinavian country has been considered at low risk for the disease due to restrictions imposed by the agriculture industry.

Some 80 people have died of the human form of the disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob, since the mid-1990s, mostly in Britain.

Winberg also said she had asked the National Food Administration to remove all meat from the originating farm from the stores. The National Veterinary Institute also started an epidemiological examination to determine where the animal had been, what it ate and if other animals had eaten the same fodder, among other things.

The farm also was barred from dispatching any animals, agriculture officials said.

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