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From: TSS ()
Subject: USDA vet reassigned over BSE test program overpayments (suspected of altering records)
Date: May 11, 2006 at 7:51 am PST

USDA vet reassigned over BSE test program overpayments

by Pete Hisey on 5/11/2006 for

A veterinarian in Madison, Wis., has been reassigned while USDA investigates $1.2 million in overpayments identified during an audit of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy surveillance program.

The veterinarian, who was not identified by USDA, is suspected of altering records to make the payments, which had been disallowed by USDA.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinal identified the veterinarian as Linn Wilbur and confirmed that he had been reassigned to the Raleigh, N.C., regional office of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The overpayments were uncovered by an audit of the program by USDA's Inspector General. The veterinarian, according to reports, altered records so that vendors could be paid in full after parts of their invoices were disallowed for exceeding cost guidelines. The veterinarian was responsible for paying vendors for sampling, carcass transportation, storage and disposal. When some activities were disallowed as exceeding guidelines, the veterinarian allegedly shifted the costs to eligible categories.

The Inspector General investigated five offices in all, most in states with high cattle populations, and found discrepancies only in the Madison bureau.

The USDA June 2004 Enhanced BSE surveillance program was a sham, and everyone knows it now.

I find it sad and embarrassing that the USDA and my country, would continue this masquerade. I find it even more sad that the public accepts it. THE complete program, and the USDA should be dismantled and redone. Those test were meaningless under there flawed BSE protocols. ...TSS


The U.S. Department of Agriculture was quick to assure the public earlier this week that the third case of mad cow disease did not pose a risk to them, but what federal officials have not acknowledged is that this latest case indicates the deadly disease has been circulating in U.S. herds for at least a decade.

The second case, which was detected last year in a Texas cow and which USDA officials were reluctant to verify, was approximately 12 years old.

These two cases (the latest was detected in an Alabama cow) present a picture of the disease having been here for 10 years or so, since it is thought that cows usually contract the disease from contaminated feed they consume as calves. The concern is that humans can contract a fatal, incurable, brain-wasting illness from consuming beef products contaminated with the mad cow pathogen.

"The fact the Texas cow showed up fairly clearly implied the existence of other undetected cases," Dr. Paul Brown, former medical director of the National Institutes of Health's Laboratory for Central Nervous System Studies and an expert on mad cow-like diseases, told United Press International. "The question was, 'How many?' and we still can't answer that."

Brown, who is preparing a scientific paper based on the latest two mad cow cases to estimate the maximum number of infected cows that occurred in the United States, said he has "absolutely no confidence in USDA tests before one year ago" because of the agency's reluctance to retest the Texas cow that initially tested positive.

USDA officials finally retested the cow and confirmed it was infected seven months later, but only at the insistence of the agency's inspector general.

"Everything they did on the Texas cow makes everything USDA did before 2005 suspect," Brown said. ...snip...end

on the lighter side of things;

Disease lab dumping raises questions in Ames

by Stella Shaffer

An investigation's beginning into whether the National Animal Disease Lab in Ames dumped material from animal autopsies into the city sewage treatment system in Ames. The federal Environmental Protection Agency confirms the city of Ames has called the regional E-P-A office in Kansas City asking for advice.

E-P-A spokesman Martin Kessler says the city's trying to determine just how long the lab's been discharging fluid from its operations into the city's water treatment system. The lab on the north side of Ames takes in animals suspected of having ailments including foot and mouth disease and B-S-E, and does testing on them. Some material from the bodies of animals with Mad Cow contains prions, proteins that are thought to transmit the disease.

Kessler says the E-P-A's been told the lab was bleaching the waste, but that process doesn't kill prions. The lab's been advised to incinerate its animal waste, and a city engineer says there doesn't seem to be any imminent threat, but an investigation is underway.


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