mad cow disease and pigs

martin weiss weissm at rockefeller.edu
Wed May 9 16:25:29 EST 2001

>I live in the midwest of the United States of America. We are 
>accustomed to buying large quantites of meat from a packing plant 
>and filling our freezer. I am thinking about buying a 1/2 hog. Are 
>pigs involved in the mad cow controversy? Thank You

If you do a search on Google for pigs mad cow disease you'll find a 
number of sites talking about BSE and pigs. However, I would go to 
cdc.gov or who.org to see what is new. There does not seem to be a 
lot of BSE in the US or it has not yet surfaced. However, I suspect 
if there were animals infected with BSE here, as in England, we'd be 
seeing human cases here and now. Feeding pigs in the US is highly 
regulated to cut down the transmission of trichinella and trichinosis 
however that relates to feeding them pig meat, which might be 
infected with the worm. Most cases of trichinosis in the US involve 
home produced (not commercially grown) pigs and inadequate treatment 
or cooking of their products. I am not certain if the regulations 
cover feeding them cow or sheep meat which might be infected with the 
BSE prion.

It probably comes down to risk perception. If you drive at high 
speeds on the highway you certainly are greater risk of dying in a 
car crash than dying from BSE if you buy and eat a side of pork.


Martin Weiss, Ph.D.
Director of Science
New York Hall of Science
47-01 111 th Street
Corona, New York 11368
phone: 718 699 0005 x 356
facsimile:718 699 1341
mweiss at nyhallsci.org
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