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WASHINGTON - U.S. Agriculture Department officials have said they are ending the search for additional cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
"Our investigation is now complete," said Ron DeHaven, USDA's chief veterinarian in a telephone conference call. "We feel very confident the remaining animals, the ones we have not been able to positively identify, represent little risk."
The USDA said it was unable to locate 11 head of cattle among 25 that authorities consider likely to have eaten the same potentially infectious feed given to a Washington state Holstein that tested positive for BSE in December. All 25 cattle were among 81 born on a Canadian farm and shipped to the U.S. in 2001. Officials have since found 29 of the 81, including 14 considered "most at risk."
DeHaven said the search for the 81 cattle led authorities to 189 farms and ranches and the testing of 255 animals, none of which tested positively for mad cow disease.