Specialists from the Office International des Épizooties (OIE), the world animal health organisation, are investigating outbreaks of "atypical" BSE strains in Italy and Japan, to confirm whether they are new strains of the disease.

An ad hoc group of experts from the UK, Switzerland, Italy and Japan has been convened at the OIE's Paris headquarters to review new test data. So far, they have decided that the Japanese and Italian outbreaks are probably not linked.

Despite these cases involving "observations…not previously been described", the group did not believe current surveillance, disease control, or human health protection methods should be changed.