Note to Editors The following is a media tip sheet that includes information about experts and resources at Colorado State University. The contact information for experts is intended to provide resources to reporters and editors and is not intended as contact information for the public. To arrange interviews, please contact Dell Rae Moellenberg or Brad Bohlander at the numbers below. Additional information about BSE and related issues is available on the Web at www.agnews.colostate.edu/bse.
Colorado State University BSE experts available for comment.
Red meat and food supply safety
Keith Belk, John Scanga and John Sofos oversee the Colorado State University Center for Red Meat Quality, a nationally-known meat-safety research facility. This center is a powerhouse of red meat safety research, and is run by experts at the university who can discuss beef safety in domestic and international markets. These experts can discuss general US Department of Agriculture procedures that are in place at packing plants to protect consumers from BSE and food safety threats and the current safety of the meat supply.
Animal disease, epidemiligy and biosecurity
Paul Morley, Colorado State University veterinarian has research emphasis in animal disease epidemiology and biosecurity. He can discuss the epidemiology of BSE, biosecurity, and how those diseases might impact livestock production. Morley can also discuss the US surveillance of BSE compared to other countries, as well as the handling of high risk material – the spinal cord and brain where the disease is carried – and how that relates to meat safety.
Current and Potentially Faster Testing Procedures for BSE
Barbara Powers, director of the Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System and president of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association, is available to discuss current and potential procedures for diagnosing bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cows. Powers can address the present Immunohistochemistry test, or IHC, procedure used to detect "mad cow" and how other testing procedures could potentially be used to detect the disease in hours instead of days.
Consumer safety, recalls and symptoms of new variant CJD
Pat Kendall and Mary Schroder, Colorado State University food safety and human nutrition experts can discuss the symptoms of new variant CJD; the very low probability of a person contracting the disease from beef from an infected animal; the recall of beef including the strategy and process that the USDA employed as a precautionary measure.
Economic impacts of BSE on agriculture
Steve Koontz, Colorado State University agricultural economist, can discuss how the BSE discovery in the United States may impact beef commodity prices.
Wendy Umberger, Colorado State University agricultural economist, can discuss legislation and consumer impressions of labeling food based on its country of a product’s origin. This labeling system would identify food products by the country, company or farm that they come from.
National animal identification and tracking systems
Tom Field and other Colorado State University animal sciences experts can discuss livestock tracking systems that can trace an animal from the farm or ranch to the processing plant.
Understanding TSEs – Comparing BSE, CWD and scrapie
Barbara Powers, director of the Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System, Mo Salman, director of Colorado State’s Animal Population Health Institute, and other Colorado State experts are available to discuss and compare transmissible spongiform encephalopathy diseases, a group of neurodegenerative disorders that include BSE in cows, scrapie in sheep, chronic wasting disease in deer and elk, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and kuru in human beings. The TSEs are characterized by the accumulation, in the central nervous system, of an abnormal form of the naturally occurring prion protein. Colorado is unique in having two TSEs in its animal populations: scrapie of sheep and CWD of deer and elk. As a result of experience with these diseases, researchers and diagnosticians at Colorado State are recognized nationally and internationally in the fields of TSE research and diagnosis.
Research to understand and improve preventative measures for TSE diseases
Mo Salman, director of Colorado State’s Animal Population Health Institute, can discuss current research underway to understand and reduce the spread of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, or TSE, diseases in animals, including "mad cow" disease. Salman oversees the institute’s Program for Research on TSEs, created to centralize worldwide research on TSEs and integrate them with diagnostic activities currently ongoing at Colorado State. APHI scientists are currently working with researchers in Switzerland and the European Union to learn techniques for improving diagnostic assays and the identification of specified risk materials — those materials thought to carry an increased risk of harboring TSE prions, especially brain and spinal cord tissues — in meat products.
Other current related research projects at APHI include:
- Determining the fate of the TSE agent in composed carcasses.
- Developing novel approaches for the screening of scrapie for sheep flock certification.
- Validating seven screening tests for CWD surveillance.
- Determining the relation between mineral profile in captive elk and CWD infection.
Risk assessment, prevention of BSE and other TSEs
Mo Salman, director of Colorado State’s Animal Population Health Institute, is currently serving on three international working groups that deal with risk assessment for BSE and other TSEs in animal populations and classification of countries according to such risk. APHI is additionally working closely with the USDA in determining methods to prevent the spread of these diseases in the United States.
Monitoring for TSEs to enhance control efforts
The Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System monitors animals for TSEs in the state of Colorado and the nation. The diagnostic services allow identification of infected animals prior to the onset of late stage symptoms, and thus enhances efforts at control. The Colorado State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory was one of the first of only 26 nationally certified laboratories for confirmation of the diagnosis of chronic wasting disease and scrapie, and is also recognized internationally for its expertise in this area. This laboratory has purchased and installed a WR2 tissue digester for inactivating highly infectious materials from potential TSE-positive animals. — one of only a few available in the United States for use in TSE diagnosis.