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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2002 Jun;8(6):332-9.

Current perspectives on bovine spongiform encephalopathy and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

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1
SEDECON 2000, Edinburgh, UK. david.taylor@sedecon2000.freeserve.co.uk

Abstract

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) clearly originated in the UK, where there have now been more than 180 000 cases. However, through the exportation of cattle and cattle-feed additives from the UK, BSE also became established to a lesser extent in other European countries. There is current concern that BSE might have been distributed more widely as a result of the exportation of cattle or BSE-infected feed or foodstuff not only from the UK but also from other European countries that later became affected. It is now recognized that the transmissible agent that causes BSE also causes a new variant form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in humans, and the evidence for this is presented. This probably resulted from dietary exposure to the bovine agent, and the potential role of mechanically recovered meat is discussed. There is a brief discussion on the controversial issue of the nature of the causal agents of diseases like BSE and vCJD. Whether or not sheep or goats could have become infected with BSE, and whether they represent a human health hazard, is also debated. Finally, the question of the control of BSE, and consequently vCJD, is discussed with regard to the rigorous application of the relevant regulations.

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