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The feds are still looking for the E. coli
By Michael Scherer
As the bacterial outbreaks in Pennsylvania and California show, the USDA’s food-safety division has trouble tracking down the slaughterhouses that produce tainted meat.
It all started with Little League baseball players in Napa County, Calif., in early April. Three of them, as young as age 9, ate hamburgers they purchased from snack vendors at the game. They each fell ill, complaining of cramps and diarrhea, classic symptoms of a potentially deadly bacterium known as E. coli O157:H7. Just a few days earlier, five people in four Pennsylvania counties became sick with similar symptoms in an apparently unrelated E. coli case. They had each recently ordered rare and medium-rare steaks at a local restaurant chain, Hoss’s Steak and Sea House.
Scientists Look to Vaccines in the War on E. Coli
By ANDREW POLLACK
New York Times
Shousun C. Szu, a scientist at the National Institutes of Health, says the best way to prevent people from being poisoned by deadly E. coli would be to vaccinate all infants against the bacteria.
Graeme McRae, a Canadian biotechnology executive, says it would be more practical to inoculate cows instead.
Vaccines for people and for cattle are just two approaches under development to prevent or treat food poisoning by the strain E. coli O157:H7.
Right now, scientists can do little medically to fight the pathogen, which was responsible for two severe outbreaks last fall, one from contaminated bagged spinach and a second from tainted lettuce served in chain taco restaurants.
Canada confirms mad cow case in British Columbia
CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – Another Canadian case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, has been confirmed in a mature dairy cow in the province of British Columbia, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said on Wednesday.
The CFIA said the cow was 66 months old, within the age range of other Canadian cattle found to have the disease. The cow was born and died on a farm in the western part of the province’s Fraser River valley.
The agency has the animal’s carcass and no part of it entered the human or animal feed systems.
The case is the tenth found in Canadian cattle since 2003, and the second in less than three months. Many of the cases have been blamed on exposure to contaminated feed.
The Wisdom of our Elders, The Folly of the Young
By Troy Marshall
The old axiom about learning from one’s mistakes gets inscribed on the hearts of almost anyone who manages a cattle operation in very short order. That’s because it seems like, no matter how much time and effort you put into managing your operation more efficiently, you end up making a plethora of mistakes, which then leads up to a whole lot of knowledge.
If only someone would have told me how much I could have learned from others when I was 16, and/or fresh out college, I could have avoided so many wrong turns and screw-ups. Yet, thinking back, I’m sure someone did; I just didn’t listen.
Breeding Soundness Exam Used to Evaluate Fertility in Bulls
Dr. Glenn Selk, Extension Cattle Specialist, Oklahoma State University
Producers searching for a cost efficient method to promote a successful breeding program may find breeding soundness examinations (BSEs) for bulls beneficial. The importance of the bull in a cattle breeding program often is underestimated. A cow is responsible for half the genetic material in only one calf each year, while the bull is responsible for half the genetic material in 20 to 50 calves. The bull’s ability to locate cows in estrus and breed them is clearly vital to a successful breeding program.
For the breeding soundness evaluation to be successful, bulls should be evaluated 30 to 60 days before the start of breeding. It is important to allow sufficient time to replace questionable bulls. Bulls should also be evaluated at the end of breeding to determine if their fertility decreased. A BSE is administered by a veterinarian and includes a physical examination (feet, legs, eyes, teeth, flesh cover, scrotal size and shape), an internal and external examination of the reproductive tract and semen evaluation for sperm cell motility and normality.
Getting Heifers Bred
High pregnancy rate reduces development costs and leads to cow herd longevity. by Heather Smith Thomas
A high rate of pregnancy among replacement heifers makes total cost in developing them less because the cull rate is lower. And statistics show that heifers that settle early tend to be early calvers the rest of their lives. Here are some tips to help get those firsttime mommas bred.