The Balearic and Spanish authorities yesterday mounted a damage limitation exercise on three fronts: about the two carcasses stumbled across in a make-shift grave (pictured) by walkers on Tuesday, a further delay in the results of the test of the suspect case found in Minorca. And thirdly, revelations yesterday that a pharmaceutical product for patients with lung problems, the ingredients of which included blood plasma from a Briton who died of mad cow, had apparently been used to treat ten people in Majorca, at Son Dureta and the Policlinica Miramar, in 1997. The Spanish Health Minister, Celia Villalobos, the Barcelona Clinic Hospital and medical experts in Majorca, said yesterday that it is very improbable than any of the patients treated with the pharmaceutical had contracted mad cow, as there is still no evidence that the disease can be transmitted by blood. What is more, not a single case of mad cow disease in humans has been reported in Spain - never mind the Balearics. It was also revealed yesterday that at the end of 1997, the pharmaceutical was tracked down and removed from use by the Health Ministry as soon as the alarm was raised. All the patients administered the treatment were identified and medical reports submitted to the Ministry. Nevertheless, the Balearic health authority has asked Madrid to provide all the relevant information available. Medical experts said that the pharmaceutical would have been administered under medical surveillance, thus the risks are miniscule or none. According to the Barcelona Hospital, the product, sold under the name Amerscan Pulmonate I, had been approved for distribution in Spain by the National Director of Pharmacists and that there have been no reports of mad cow being contracted anywhere in the world via such avenues. With regards to the two suspect carcasses, Balearic Health Minister Mateu Morro said that neither of the corpses showed any signs of nervous disorders nor had the owners acted in bad faith by dumping them. He also confirmed that the two animals died towards the end of last month from an illness related to pregnancy. However, thorough tests are being carried out on both cows. The Minister also played down concerns over why the results of the tests on the suspect Minorca case have not been completed. I said that the results would be known between one to two weeks, they still have until next week to provide the result, he said. Morro also announced that mad cow tests will be launched in Majorca within the next ten days, once the island has its own laboratory.
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