What is BSE?
Have you ever heard about the mad cow disease? Mad cow disease is a type of neurogenerative disease that triggers a cattle’s brain and spinal cord a spongy deterioration. Mad cow disease is also known as BSE or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy. BSE is fatal and is characterized by a lengthy incubation period.
The incubation period takes around thirty months to eight years. BSE affects fully developed cattle at age 4 to 5 years. The neurogenerative disease chooses no particular breed as it affects all cattle breeds. United Kingdom was the worst affected country by BSE. The country lost approximately 4.5 million cattle upon the program to eradicate the disease.
BSE mainly attacks the central nervous system of bovines (cattle). The disease will destroy the cells in the spinal cord and the brain. The disease will leave holes to the infected areas that appear like sponge. As the disease affects the brain, the cow will show behavior similar to that of an insane animal. The name mad cow disease was derived from this insane or erratic behavior.
The worse thing about this neurogenerative disease is that it is known to affect humans. The transmission of the disease is by ingestion. Transmission puts human lives at risk and as well as the food supply. BSE had put human lives in danger during 1980s and Britain lost millions of cattle.
Experts believed that cattle populace has been affected by a disease comparable to that affecting the sheep population. According to studies, what causes the disease may seem to be from a wrong husbandry practice. It was believed that animal byproducts were used as additive to feeds given to cow populace. The reason behind this practice is to increase the protein consumption of the cows. However, this practice has led to the development of BSE.
How does BSE affect humans who happened to have taken a contaminated meat? The same symptom is shown by humans who ingest infected beef. Insanity and erratic behavior is seen in humans who got infected by BSE. However, in humans, the disease is called new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
More than 150 people lost their lives in Europe because of the disease. The disease was not immediately detected since the disease can stay dormant for several years. This had taken experts a long time before they had actually realized the deadly effect of BSE on humans. Today, the reason was known and that is through prion, a misshapen protein, that transmission was made possible.
To be able to control the proliferation of the disease, eradication program was executed. Millions of infected bovine were eliminated. Moreover, inclusion of tissues from the nervous system and ground meat products from cattle were removed from the feeding practice. The United States had also reports that mad cow disease had been observed in some cows. However, the reports were considered isolated cases and therefore deemed under control.
BSE has no known treatment. The same is true in humans who are infected by the new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The safest thing to do is to refrain from consuming meat products or anything that has animal brains. This will prevent humans from being infected by contaminated meats.