Your article about mad cow disease (“Mad cow raises awareness of another mysterious killer,”Page A-1, April 8) almost got it right.

To your credit, the story drew dear distinctions between Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and the”new variant”thereof, which is connected to the European mad cow problem. However, midway through the story came the startling assertion that despite our government’s vigilance, “officials have found mad cow on U.S. soil.” This is simply not true.

No diagnosis of mad cow disease has been made in any American life-form. This includes the unfortunate Vermont sheep, which are likely infected with scrapie, an ailment whose presence in the West has been documented for centuries. Furthermore, the 21 Texas cattle that were to be slaughtered were not diagnosed with mad cow disease either. Their status as imported livestock was, it seems, reason enough for the USDA to quarantine and destroy them as a precautionary measure. We should breathe a sigh of relief rather than a gasp of alarm.

Despite the fact that mad cow disease is nowhere to be found in North America, an army of radical activists has managed to convince many Americans that an epidemic is already incubating here. Some of them are animal-rights fanatics or vegetarian zealots. Others identify with the “organic foods”and”sustainable agriculture” movements.

Their common ground is disdain for meat and meat eaters, and their apparent 1 goal is to convince us all that the nation’s meat supply is unsafe. We listen to them at our own peril.