Bovine spongiform encephalopathy BSE

A transmissible fatal neurodegenerative prion disease of cattle first detected in 1986 in the UK. Although the epidemic was restricted to the UK and Ireland, sporadic cases occurred in, for example, France, Germany, Switzerland, Oman, Portugal, Italy and the Falkland Islands. Incubation period is 2-8 years. Can be experimentally transmitted to mice, pigs, cats and bovines. Natural infection is by the oral route. Believed to have originated by adaptation of sheep scrapie to cattle around 1981/2, and was exacerbated by feeding cattle-derived meat and bone meal to cattle. This was banned in 1988 and the epidemic is declining in the UK. See prion diseases.

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