First case of Mad Cow Disease found in U.S.

The nation's top food experts are working to ensure the safety of American beef. The country's first suspected case of Mad Cow Disease has been discovered in Washington State.

USDA Secretary Ann Veneman made announced the finding early Tuesday evening, "A single Holstein cow from Washington state has tested presumptive for BSE, or what is widely known as mad cow disease"

Within hours of the announcement, Japan and South Korea set up temporary bans on the import of U.S. beef.

U.S. officials call it a single, isolated case, not an outbreak. They insist that it poses little threat to humans.

"I think it's very important to recognize that this disease does not spread easily," Veneman said following the announcement.

The finding still has to be officially confirmed by experts in Britain.

The degenerative brain disease was first reported there in the 1980's, before it spread - and spread fear across Europe.

Cows died by hundreds of thousands, and millions rethought their taste for beef.

Here in the States, the first positive test was enough to prompt a swift, potentially costly response by the Bush Administration.

"We're in the process of notifying a whole range of people at this point," says Veneman. "Including our trade partners, and I can't at this point anticipate what they may do in response to this announcement."

Officials are urging consumers not to panic. They say this test result demonstrates that a mad cow monitoring system begun a decade ago is working.

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