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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Knowles, Donald - Don
item Mcelwain, Terry

Submitted to: Popular Publication
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/1/2004
Publication Date: 5/1/2004
Citation: Knowles Jr, D.P., Mcelwain, T. 2004. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy an assessment of risk. Popular Publication. Ketch Pen. 21(8):6.

Interpretive Summary: Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is one of four known naturally occurring prion diseases. Prions are a normal component in the cells of cattle which, after exposure to the disease causing prion, changes its form and becomes toxic to the cow's nervous system. Other prion diseases include scrapie of sheep, chronic wasting disease (CWD) of elk, mule and white tailed deer, and transmissible mink encephalopathy (TME). These diseases have many characteristics in common; fortunately for control of BSE they differ in their transmission efficiency. Scrapie and CWD are transmitted from animal to animal by contact within a flock or herd. In contrast BSE and TME, based upon abundant information can only be transmitted from cow to cow or mink to mink through the recycling of protein from an infected cow or mink. The fortunate consequence of this fact is that BSE transmission is more easily controlled.

Technical Abstract: This short invited article for the Washington Cattlemen's news letter (Ketch Pen) summarizes based on published BSE transmission and infectious dose data the relative risk of BSE for animal and human health.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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