Local Beef Sales Unaffected by News of Mad Cow

Yet one market owner says beef sales are actually up and this has been his best Christmas rush in years.

Butchers say they'll continue to carefully monitor the farms where they buy their meat to keep things that way.

Christmas Eve business is non-stop at Jones Country Meats, even during the half-day they're open, more than 150 customers have come through the door.

"We've probably had the largest Christmas we've ever had in the 24 years we've been here,” says owner Randall Jones.

Customers shopping for beef say the news of a cow being diagnosed with Mad Cow disease in Washington state is a bit unnerving, but it won't stand in the way of enjoying their Christmas dinner.

Shakita Williams, isn't giving up beef, "It might never get here, they might cure it before it gets here, hopefully they do anyway.”

Butchers say the news is too fresh to expect a decrease in beef sales yet, but to stay on the safe side, they're going to continue to check their beef regularly and only purchase it from trusted suppliers.

Butchers here say they are open to their customer’s concerns.

But as of right now, they feel beef-eaters in our part of the country can rest easy.

So far only one cow in the country has been diagnosed with the disease. Beef sales may not be down yet, but butchers say once the news sets in, they expect pork and chicken sales will make up for any losses they could see in beef sales.

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What Is Mad Cow Disease?

  • Mad cow, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is a disease found in cattle. Found in humans it is named Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (VCJD).

What is Mad cow (BSE)?

  • Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is a progressive neurological disorder.

  • The disease can be transmitted between cattle when infected meat is digested by the animal.

  • The disease has now cure in cattle.

Transmission to Humans

  • Although the risk is very small, humans can contract the disease, which is known as VCJD.

  • The disease is fatal and causes brain disorders with unusually long incubation periods measured in years.

  • From 1995 through June 2002, a total of 124 human cases of VCJD were reported in the United Kingdom, 6 cases in France, and 1 case each in Ireland, Italy, and the United States. The case-patients from Ireland and the United States had each lived in the United Kingdom for more than 5 years.

  • Milk and milk products from cows are not believed to pose any risk for transmitting the BSE agent.

  • Staying alert to U.S. government warnings during times of outbreak is very important. The U.S. government will say if avoiding beef all together is necessary.

  • Selecting beef, such as solid pieces of muscle meat (versus calf brains or beef products such as burgers and sausages), which might have a reduced opportunity for contamination with tissues that may harbor the BSE agent.

Symptoms of VCJD

  • The duration of CJD from the onset of symptoms to the inevitable death is usually one year; however, shorter duration periods of several months are common, and longer duration periods of two or more years have been noted.

  • The initial stage of the disease can be subtle with ambiguous symptoms of:
    • Insomnia
    • Depression
    • Confusion
    • Personality and behavioral changes
    • Strange physical sensations
    • Problems with memory, coordination and sight

  • As the disease advances, the patient experiences a rapidly, progressive dementia and in most cases, involuntary and irregular jerking movements known as myoclonus.

  • Problems with language, sight, muscular weakness, and coordination worsen. The patient may appear startled and become rigid.

  • In the final stage of the disease, the patient loses all mental and physical functions. The patient may lapse into a coma and usually dies from an infection like pneumonia precipitated by the bedridden, unconscious state.

Sources: http://www.cdc.gov/od/oc/media/fact/cjd.htm (The Center for Disease Control Web site) and http://cjdfoundation.org/CJDInfo.html (The Creutxfeldt-Jakob Disease Foundation Web site)