As we leave Tanabe, in Wakayama prefecture and follow the quiet roads down the Kii-peninsula, I’ve been looking at the news, and I found that several sites are down. The New Zealand ones still work, but the major ones in the UK and the US aren’t loading. Japanese news has been slow for a while now, with only sporadic articles which are mostly just rehashes of old ones. There were several new ones up today though, which all followed a similar theme.

The general gist of the new batch of articles was surprisingly positive. There was an apology issued by the government for inconvenience caused, rations have been supplied to those in need, and the assurance that things will be back to normal very soon. I don’t know what the cities are like at the moment, but judging from the carnage in Tanabe, I was amazed that he was suggesting that people should be getting back to work soon. He also repeated what seems like his mantra. ‘Everything is under control.’ Here’s one article that really caught my eye. No idea what to make of it…

Imported beef contained “Mad Cow Disease” claims new report

Tokyo – A recent government study concluded that contaminated beef from the United States and Australia is to blame for the recent outbreak of Mad Cow Disease in Japan, which prompted a government shutdown of imports and exports until a cause could be identified. The study, performed by medical professionals from major universities and government laboratories, indicated that the beef was tainted due to unclean sanitation practices in foreign slaughterhouses. Upon consumption, the beef could cause numerous ailments such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heart problems, and even mental impairment with symptoms similar to rabies. The outbreak was widespread, with reports of tainted beef causing illness in all 47 prefectures and being the cause of over one hundred deaths – a number that grew rapidly at the onset of the ban but has recently tapered off, leading officials to agree that the epidemic is in the final stages.

With the study concluded and the cause identified, government officials are looking ahead to lifting the current bans on imports as well as passenger travel while leaving an indefinite ban on imported beef. The bans, put in place last month, were designed to last anywhere from three days to up to six months barring any emergency situations that could arise. Medical professionals agree that the outbreak, while serious and having a lasting impact on daily life, was still overshadowed by the epidemic in the United Kingdom, which by 2014 had killed almost two hundred people and infected over 180,000 cows. Prior to this years’ spread of the disease, only twenty-six cows of Japanese origin had ever been infected with the disease and only one person had ever died from it. However, health officials confirmed that no Japanese cattle had been compromised by the outbreak and all Japanese beef remains perfectly safe to eat.
The government has also taken steps to provide assistance to those affected by this crisis by establishing a free consultation service available via telephone 24/7. If you have consumed beef and are worried about contamination, you are encouraged to call as soon as possible. If you feel ill, both mentally or physically, or demonstrate any of the symptoms mentioned above, medical professionals urge you to seek treatment at your nearest hospital or clinic.



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