WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. Department of Agriculture documents uncovered by UPI provide new evidence the a so-called mad cow in Washington was not a "downer."
The documents indicate tests for illegal antibiotics and a temperature reading are required to be performed on all downer animals, meaning those unable to stand.
However, neither a temperature reading nor an antibiotic test was conducted on the cow that tested positive for mad cow disease in December, suggesting it was not a downer.
The USDA has maintained the cow was unable to stand due to a birthing injury. The adequacy of the agency's mad cow surveillance program hinges on resolving the downer dispute, because it depends primarily on testing downer animals.
If the Washington cow was not a downer, it raises the question of how many other seemingly healthy animals infected with mad cow went undetected and were approved for human consumption.
Humans can contract a fatal brain disorder known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from eating meat tainted with the mad cow pathogen.