veggies.jpg (6769 bytes)fruitbowl.jpg (6391 bytes)Japan Confirms 26th Mad Cow Disease Case

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Japan Confirms 26th Mad Cow Disease Case

Japan confirms 26th mad cow disease case; Agriculture Ministry confirms infection

TOKYO, May. 13, 2006

(AP) Japan has confirmed its 26th case of mad cow disease, this one in a 5-year-old Holstein in the country's north, the Agriculture Ministry said Saturday.

Meat inspectors in the northern state of Hokkaido found Thursday that a dairy cow tested positive for the disease, the ministry said in a statement. A panel of Agriculture Ministry experts confirmed the infection Saturday, according to ministry official Akiko Suzuki.

"All meat, internal organs and parts from this cattle will be incinerated, and there is no danger that they will be circulated in the market," the ministry statement said.

The confirmation comes as Japanese and U.S. officials prepare to meet as early as next week to discuss lifting Tokyo's ban on American beef.

Japan initially banned U.S. beef in December 2003, following the first discovery of mad cow disease in the United States.

That ban was eased last December to allow the importation of meat from cows aged 20 months or less _ seen as posing a lower risk of having the disease _ but the ban was later tightened following the faulty beef shipment in January.

Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is a degenerative nerve disease in cattle. Eating contaminated meat products has been linked to the rare but fatal human variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

There have been three confirmed cases of the disease in the United States.

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