Mad cows not always downers

oh boy, this isn't good.

"In the days after the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that mad cow disease had been discovered in a Holstein in Washington, officials insisted that the cow was a "downer" -- unable to walk.

The government's most significant subsequent step to prevent spread of the disease -- a Dec. 30 ban on processing "downer" cows for food -- stemmed from that finding.

Now, three people have come forward to assert that the cow was not a downer. While their stories vary on what happened Dec. 9 at Vern's Moses Lake Meats, their accounts agree on a key point: The cow was able to walk on its own.

The distinction on whether the cow could stand is significant. The department's search for mad cow disease has focussed on downed cattle or those with obvious signs of neurological damage. The suggestion that the diseased Washington Holstein had neither problem raises the possibility that detection of that cow's disease may have been a stroke of luck. "

...And that there may be quite a few more out there that would go undetected even with the no-downer policy.

From today's Oregonian