Chapter 10 : Mad Cows and Englishmen

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Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or “mad cow disease,” is just one of several syndromes that are known collectively as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Members of this family of diseases include chronic wasting disease of deer and elk, transmissible mink encephalopathy, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), kuru, Gerstmann-Strâussler-Scheinker syndrome, fatal familial insomnia, Huntington’s disease, and other miscellaneous encephalopathies. Inadvertent mixing and cross-contamination of animal feeds destined for ruminants with poultry or pig feed together with the small infectious dose opened the door for the epidemic of BSE in cattle to continue despite the ruminant feed ban. Some of the changes to meat and bone meal processing--elimination of solvent extraction and introduction of lower-temperature processing--coincided roughly with the time period when BSE was thought to have originated. It was logical for investigators to consider the possibility that one or more of these changes were responsible for allowing the BSE agent to survive in the meal. The British Central Veterinary Laboratory carried out an epidemiological study of BSE in 1987, soon after the outbreak was detected. They concluded that the disease was not inherited, nor was it imported into the United Kingdom from abroad. The epidemiological evidence contradicted the theory that chemical contaminants were the trigger. There was no association between the use of therapeutic agents (such as antibiotics) or agricultural chemicals and the development of BSE.

Citation: Entis P. 2007. Mad Cows and Englishmen, p 179-195. In Food Safety. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816186.ch10
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Figure 10.1

Annual incidence of confirmed BSE cases in the United Kingdom, 1988–June 2006 ( ). Data for 1988 include accumulated data from earlier years. Data from 2006 are current to 9 June 2006.

Citation: Entis P. 2007. Mad Cows and Englishmen, p 179-195. In Food Safety. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816186.ch10
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Generic image for table
Table 10.1

Major milestones in the United Kingdom BSE /vCJD outbreak and the government's efforts to contain and control it ( )

Citation: Entis P. 2007. Mad Cows and Englishmen, p 179-195. In Food Safety. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816186.ch10

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