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Mad cow

Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is a disease found in cattle. It can also be found as a human brain infection called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease or vCJD, from which more than 100 Europeans have died. This fatal disease causes brain damage resulting in memory loss, decreased mental function, and difficulty walking and speaking. Often misdiagnosed, human victims waste away.

BSE and vCJD are transmitted from cattle to other cattle to other cattle and humans through ground feed made from cow parts and food contaminated with small amounts of infected cattle brain, spinal cord, or other nervous system tissues. The ailment was first observed in cows in Britain in 1986 when many cows were reported to be disoriented, irritable, and unable to stand or walk properly. Infected cattle have been found in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.