(23 March) ROME — Cases of mad cow disease worldwide are declining at a rapid rate, some 50 percent a year over the past three years, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

In 2005, just 474 animals died of the disease around the world, compared with 878 in 2004 and 1646 in 2003, and against a peak of several tens of thousands in 1992, according to figures collected by the Paris-based World Animal Health Organization. And, only five human deaths were counted worldwide in 2005. All of them were in the United Kingdom — the country most affected by the disease — where nine deaths were registered in 2004 and 18 in 2003.

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