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State doing the right things to keep livestock free of disease

We have nothing but high praise for efforts under way in West Virginia to prevent the potential spread of diseases currently affecting cattle elsewhere.

Mad cow and foot-and-mouth disease have become part of daily news, and a growing concern among farmers throughout the world.

But here in the Mountain State, we feel confident that officials are doing their best to prepare for the worst of possible scenarios.

Gus Douglass, state agriculture commissioner, has stated that he will seize and destroy any suspicious cattle or sheep according to regulations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Similar steps were recently taken with Vermont sheep and Texas cattle.

Douglass and other state officials also gathered last week to discuss responses to mad cow disease should it arrive in West Virginia or a neighboring state. Should a case arise, he said he would resort to extreme measures. Douglass said he would quarantine farms and workers, and anything else within a five-mile radius. In addition, he would close fairs, festivals, tourist areas and highways to help protect the nation's food supply.

But perhaps most noteworthy are the preventive measures currently in place throughout the state.

Douglass, for one, believes West Virginia and the United States can stay free from mad cow disease as long as the FDA regulations are followed. Since 1997, the use of most mammal proteins in sheep and cattle feed has been banned in the U.S. In West Virginia, the ban is enforced through FDA inspections of the companies that make feed and random samplings at state feed stores.

Mr. Douglass and state officials deserve recognition for their proactive response to a frightening situation.

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