smith-11 - What is Mad Cow Disease? (Source:...

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What is Mad Cow Disease? (Source: ) Can also see USDA site for info. Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) is the scientific term for a disease which affects the brains of cattle. Soon after BSE was first discovered in the United Kingdom, it became more commonly known as " mad cow disease ," most likely because of the emotional response it generated with the public. Unlike most livestock diseases, BSE is not caused by a bacterial or viral infection, but rather is the result of infectious prions. These are unique proteins that may bond with a cow's brain cells, altering their composition and ultimately leading to the animal's death. Mad cow disease is believed to be transferred to cattle when they eat these infectious proteins, yet science has shown the disease can only affect those cows that are genetically susceptible. A similar disease, scrapie, has affected sheep in the United Kingdom since at least the mid-18th century. Scientists believe that through centuries of close contact in rural England, the disease managed to transfer to cattle, where it was first identified in 1985. In the years that followed, more than 180,000 cows became infected in the U.K. The British practice of processing central nervous tissue into animal feed allowed the prions to spread rapidly through their herds. As the British exported feed and live animals to various regions of the world, cases of BSE began to appear in other countries. In 1997 the United States
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This note was uploaded on 04/06/2011 for the course SFL 110 taught by Professor Annhardman during the Spring '10 term at BYU.

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smith-11 - What is Mad Cow Disease? (Source:...

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