Overview over German BSE cases until 4 July 2009           Evaluation
Federal Land BSE cases Total
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Baden-Württemberg 0 12 11 9 6 6 3 0 0 0 47
Bayern 5 59 27 21 21 7 3 0 0 0 143
Berlin 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Brandenburg 0 3 3 3 3 3 1 0 0 0 16
Bremen 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Hamburg 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
Hessen 0 3 2 2 2 2 0 0 0 0 11
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 0 2 4 0 3 2 1 2 0 0 14
Niedersachsen 1 17 27 7 14 2 5 1 2 0 76
Nordrhein-Westfalen 0 2 2 4 8 4 1 1 0 1 22
Rheinland-Pfalz 0 4 6 0 2 1 1 0 0 0 14
Saarland 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Sachsen 0 4 4 3 2 2 0 0 0 0 15
Sachsen-Anhalt 0 4 4 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 10
Schleswig-Holstein 1 12 14 1 1 3 0 0 0 0 32
Thüringen (Statistics) 0 2 1 3 2 0 1 0 0 0 9
Total 7 25 105 54 65 32 16 4 2 2 412

Development of the age distribution of German BSE cases

You will get to my traditional detailed chronicles by clicking the links indicated by the years in the head of the table. By clicking the names of the federal laender you will get to their respective web sites containing their press releases.

Additional information

Descriptions of various breeds of cattle like Fleckvieh (German Simmental), Braunvieh (German Braunvieh) and Schwarzbunte (Black Pied) may be found with the Agrar Information Service (AID).

1) Explanations of column "Percentage of tested slaughter cattle"
To be able to compare the BSE case numbers of the different Federal Laender one has to view them in relation to the respective size of the population at risk, i.e. especially the 3-7-year-old cows. The male, very young and very old bovines do not play a role as they are rarely detected as incubating BSE. Current numbers of these medium aged cows have not been made available to me, however, the numbers of BSE tested slaughter cattle published on a Bavarian Internet site are closely related to the actually needed numbers. While the absolute test numbers are permanently changing the respective shares of the Federal Laender of the total test numbers remain nearly constant. Therefore for the purpose of this table I simply divided the number of tests carried out in each Federal Land during the first 42 calendar weeks by the sum of all tests carried out in this period.

Basing the calculations on the number of BSE tests in slaughter cattle has the following advantages:

  1. Calves, fattened bulls and heifers which - due to being slaughtered at less than 24 months of age - are practically never detected as incubating BSE and do not appear in the figures of official statistics referring to BSE screening tests carried out within the frame of the meat inspection. Accordingly the number of BSE tests is relatively insensitive to differences in the age pyramid far outside the medium BSE incubation period.
  2. The varying decrease in the number of milking cows in the different Federal Laender is automatically corrected by using the number of BSE tests.
  3. The numbers of BSE tests include cows on milking farms as well as cows in suckler herds and are therefore insensitive to differences between the Federal Laender with respect to their shares of different farming systems. Should calves originating from suckler herds be also in Germany comparatively less prone to BSE infections this would result in fewer BSE cases in Federal Laender with a high prevalence of suckler herds.

Basing the calculations on the numbers of official BSE tests in slaughter cattle on the other hand also raises a few problems:

  1. The relation between the number of BSE cases and the number of tests would be distorted in the upper range if a Federal Land were to slaughter a high share of its cattle outside its own territory in another Federal Land. In this case these animals would be included in the test numbers of the respective Laender hosting the slaughter plants, while the BSE cases would be added to the Land in which they had been kept prior to slaughter. This seems to be the case especially in some East German Federal Laender.
  2. The BSE eradication program of the EU has led to differing numbers of especially older cattle being taken off the market in different Federal Laender, and naturally these cows are missing in the numbers of tested slaughter cattle. In Federal Laender like Brandenburg which have destroyed a high amount of cows within the frame of this EU program the BSE risk of the individual cows is overestimated by this artificial reduction of slaughter tests .
  3. Overestimation of the BSE prevalence would also occur where the number of official BSE tests in slaughter cattle was strongly reduced by cohort killings or especially the initially practised herd culling. This was especially the case in Bayern due to the high numbers of BSE cases, but also in East Germany due to the extremely great number of cattle in herds.

2) Explanation of column "milking cows as of 3.11.2000"
The numbers of milking cows in the various Federal Laender I took from a table provided by the Federal Office for Statistics.. The situation in Germany need not necessarily be comparable, however, in England the BSE prevalence in milking cows was much higher than in suckler cows. Male bovines as well as females slaughtered as calves or heifers practically do not play a role in BSE statistics. Therefore the number of milking cows is a rather solid measure on which to base the figures of BSE cases in a Federal Land. However, problems are

  1. that different age pyramids in milking cow herds might distort the comparison between the Laender as with regard to BSE not the total number of milking cows but the number of 4-6-year-old cows is crucial, and because different years of birth are probably hit with different frequencies.
  2. that the development of the number of milking cows differs between the Federal Laender,
  3. that in Germany - other than in England - cows in suckler herds need not necessarily show a lower BSE prevalence than cows in milking herds.
Additionally and base independent there is the problem that up to the year 2002 for most of the BSE cases only the location of their last holding but not the much more important location of their birth was made known.

Only in relation to the size of the population at risk the BSE cases of the different Federal Laender will actually become comparable, and the BSE risk of individual bovines in Niedersachsen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt and Schleswig-Holstein appears to be almost as high as in Bayern. Additionally it is shown that while the numbers of BSE cases in Bayern and especially Baden-Württemberg seem to decline they seem to be on the rise in Schleswig-Holstein and especially Niedersachsen. Nordrhein-Westfalen appears remarkably unaffected by BSE.

(Translation by Ingrid Schütt-Abraham)

Copyright Roland Heynkes

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