Mad Cow Disease: Mad Cow Disease

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Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy is more commonly known to humans as Mad Cow Disease or BSE. BSE originated from scrapie or Endemic Spongiform Encephalopathy, which is a disease that has affected mostly sheep and goats. BSE is an illness that attacks the brain and spinal cord of adult cattle due to an infection by a transmissible agent known as a prion. Once affected by BSE cattle began to develop strange behavior such as aggression, lack of coordination with the inability to stand or walk, and abnormal posture; hence the name Mad Cow Disease (1).
Why BSE Should Be Eradicated-
-BSE is a fatal disease-
BSE has been seen to progress very slowly in relation to other diseases, however is very contagious and fatal for not only cattle, but humans as well. While many diseases that are transmittable from animals to humans will affect the young or older humans, the median age of those infected with Mad Cow Disease is 26 (2). BSE has been linked to a fatal brain disease in humans referred to as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or vCJD. Eating meat from an infected cow is what many presume to be the cause of vCJD in humans (3). Symptoms include movement deficits, memory disturbances and cognitive impairments, all of which lead to an eventual death. The majority of the BSE cases reported have primarily been outside of the United States; from 2003 to 2012 23 cases were identified in North America, 4 of which in the United States (1). This may seem to be a small amount, however because it is believed to be transmitted through the meat of cattle it can be extremely dangerous and be shipped all over the United States before it is ever identified.
-BSE Symptoms Progress very Rapidly-
Rapid symptom progression is one of the most important clues ...

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...animal feed. These high risk substances come from the brains and spinal cords of cattle that are at least 30 months of age or older. Since the feed ban in 1988 the amount of reported cases has significantly dropped. In 1998, it came down to 1,567 reported cases. Last year, 4,454 new cases had been reported, compared to 37,301 new cases at the peak of the BSE disease in 1992. BSE can eventually be eradicated if there is no other significant source of infection (6).
In Conclusion-
-The Future Looks Bright-
With the current steps to prevent a BSE outbreak and control the spread of such a fatal disease, only case has been reported in the United States, which did not have an affect on the food supply or cause a human to receive the vCJD. These current steps with the continued research will eradicate Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

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