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Coming to campus

- October 3, 2005

Coming to Campus is a section announcing visiting speakers of note.

Those who wish to submit items for this section should send a brief description (maximum 300 words) of the event, including the date, time, and place, and giving the name, title, outstanding accomplishments and, if available, a color photo of the speaker to: Visiting Speaker, Advance, 1266 Storrs Road, Storrs, CT 06269-4144 or by e-mail: advance@uconn.edu, with Visiting Speaker in the subject line.

The information must be received by 4 p.m. on Monday, a minimum of two weeks prior to the event.

Publication will depend on space available, and preference will be given to events of interest to a cross-section of the University community.

National ‘mad cow disease’ experts to speak at day-long conference

A panel of national experts and scholars in the field of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as “mad cow disease,” will speak at a day-long conference on the status of U.S. defenses against the spread of the disease on Thursday, Oct. 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., in Konover Auditorium.

“The Mad Cow and related TSE Diseases: Science, Risks and Public Policy” conference, sponsored by UConn’s Center for Environmental Health, is intended to assess the best currently available knowledge on the health, social, and economic impacts of mad cow disease nationwide and summarize both the scientific evidence and uncertainties surrounding mad-cow-related diseases.

Mad cow disease causes spongy holes in the brain. In humans, a rare form of the always-fatal ailment called new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease has been linked to eating beef products infected with mad cow. The disease has killed about 150 people worldwide, mostly in Britain.

Mad cow disease is spread when cows are fed parts of other cattle and other cud-chewing animals. To guard against that, federal officials in 1997 banned the feeding of animal remains to cattle. Mad cow disease can also be prevented from spreading by effective testing of cattle.

Two cases have been detected in U.S. herds. The first surfaced in 2003 in a Canadian-born cow imported into Washington State. The second case, a Texas-born cow, tested positive in June 2005.

Mad cow disease has significant economic ramifications. The beef industry lost billions of dollars when 60 nations closed their borders to American beef after the first detected case in U.S. herds was reported.

Although the chance of anyone contracting the human form of the disease is quite low, the government and industry have been challenged to take reasonable steps to ensure that it is as low as it can be.

The UConn conference will feature scientific updates on research into prion diseases, a group of fatal, transmissible, neurodegenerative disorders that include mad cow, its human manifestation – new variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, scrapie in sheep, and chronic wasting disease in deer and elk; and strategies to help government officials ensure the safety of the nation’s food supply and track progress on the quality and cost of monitoring BSE infectivity. Other presentations will examine industry’s efforts to confront export problems and USDA regulatory updates on its BSE surveillance program.

For more information, see http://ceh.uconn.edu/conference.

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