Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)

A degenerative brain disease in cattle, transmitted by feeding slaughter-house waste from infected animals. Commonly known as ‘mad cow disease’. The infective agent is a prion; it can be transmitted to human beings, causing early- onset variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Known colloquially as mad cow disease’, this is a fatal and untreatable disease. Along with scrapie in sheep and creutzfeldt-jacob disease (CJD) in humans, BSE belongs to a class of unusual degenerative diseases of the brain known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. The disease is caused by abnormal prion proteins, which are resistant to cellular degradation. These abnormal prion proteins accumulate in, and eventually cause the death of, nerve cells both in the spinal cord and the brain. The appearance of BSE in cattle is believed to have been caused by a gene mutation although whether this mutation first occurred in cattle or in some other animal remains uncertain. Although the first case of BSE was officially reported in 1985, the first cattle are thought to have been infected in the 1970s. BSE spread to epidemic proportions because cattle were fed meat and bone meal made from the offal of cattle suffering from or incubating the disease. Mother-to-calf transfer is another likely route of transmission, although meat and bone meal in cattle feed were the main cause of the epidemic. The epidemic reached its peak in 1992 when the incidence of newly diagnosed cases in cattle was 37,545.

A progressive neurological disease of cattle, marked by sponge like changes in the brain and spinal cord and associated with rapid and fatal deterioration.

Commonly referred to as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), a degenerative and terminal affliction affecting the central nervous system of domesticated animals, which is contracted through the consumption of contaminated sustenance.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), a neurological disorder affecting cattle, has the potential to be transmitted to humans through the consumption of contaminated meat. This can lead to the development of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease in humans.