john.oxford@gaflnews.com



MOULTRIE -- The news of a dairy cow infected with the mad cow disease in Washington state has scared beef consumers across the country, but there seems to be little fright for the residents of Moultrie.

Some area residents may buy other types of meat until the scare is resolved, but others plan to continue to purchase beef products.

Tina Yost said she believes the discovery of mad cow in the United States has not affected this part of the country yet. She buys her meat from a local supplier, so she said there is not yet a reason for Georgians to panic.

"I'm not scared," Yost said.

Ginger Griffin said she will continue to buy beef for her family and they will continue to eat it. She is unable to eat beef herself and said it is a little concerning about mad cow, but she will continue to purchase it.

Griffin did suggest a solution to at least reduce the spread of potentially infected meat: using a system of tracing the animals similar to tracing cotton.

Victor Brown, a department manager for Wal-Mart, said he does not think the effects of mad cow disease on beef sales has really been seen yet.

Some people feel it best to abstain from eating beef until there is no danger of the spread of mad cow disease.

Joyce Laabs said she thinks the beef she has in her freezer is okay to eat but will not eat fast food burgers until the threat of disease has passed.

Alice Lightner, of Trenton, N.J., said she has been concerned for her health and her family's health since the news of mad cow in Washington was first reported. She has begun to buy only pork, chicken and ham and will continue to do so until health officials can figure out what is causing the illness in cows.

Mad cow disease -- or, officially, bovine spongiform encephalopathy -- is a neurological disorder of cattle that results from infection by an unconventional transmissible agent, according to a Web site on the illness operated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Web site said BSE appears to be the cause of a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal brain disease, the Web site said. It's caused by an abnormality in a cellular protein.

In classic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the abnormality appears to sometimes be hereditary. A handful of cases were linked to the use of contaminated human growth hormone, dura mater and corneal grafts, or neurosurgical equipment. All of the cases linked to surgical equipment occurred before 1976, before hospitals implemented what are now common sterilization procedures, the CDC Web site said.

Classic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease typically attacks older people, but the variant associated with mad cow disease usually kills younger. The average age of its victims in the United Kingdom was 28.

All but 10 of the 153 worldwide cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease have occurred in the United Kingdom, and almost all the others -- including one from the United States -- had been in the United Kingdom between 1980 and 1996, during the occurrence of a large outbreak of mad cow disease among cattle there. There has never been a case of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease that did not have a history of exposure within a country where mad cow disease was occurring, the Web site said.

For more information, visit the CDC Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/cjd/cjd.htm.

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