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USDA to destroy three
Vermont sheep flocks

7/17/2000-The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Friday that it is acquiring 376 sheep from three Vermont flocks after four sheep were confirmed positive on July 10 for a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). The owners of the sheep will receive fair market value for their animals, which USDA will then destroy to prevent the possible contamination of other livestock. TSE is a class of degenerative neurological diseases that are characterized by a very long incubation period and a 100% mortality rate. TSE's are not known to be very contagious. Further testing, which will take several years, is required to determine which type of TSE has infected these sheep. The original sheep were imported from Belgium and the Netherlands in 1996. In 1998, USDA learned that it was likely that European sheep were exposed to feed contaminated with BSE. At USDA's request, the state of Vermont imposed a quarantine on these flocks, prohibiting their slaughter or sale for breeding purposes. Milk from these sheep was sold and used to produce cheese that also was sold. While none of the original imported sheep were slaughtered for human consumption, prior to imposition of the quarantine and detection of TSE, some offspring of these animals were slaughtered for human consumption. USDA is working with other federal agencies and the state of Vermont to determine if there are any associated human health concerns.



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