stopMad144Canadian officials have confirmed  a six-year-old dairy cow at a farm in the province of Alberta has bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) — the scientific name for mad cow disease.

BSE, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is a chronic, degenerative disorder that affects the brain and central nervous system in adult cattle. The disease is progressive and always fatal. The disease may be transmitted to human beings who eat the brain or spinal cord of infected carcasses. In humans, it is known as new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD or nvCJD).

It is believed that vCJD is caused by cattle, who are normally herbivores,  being fed the remains of other cattle in the form of meat and bone meal, which causes the infectious agent to spread.

The infectious BSE prion material is not destroyed through normal cooking procedures, meaning that contaminated beef foodstuffs prepared “well done” may remain infectious.

Nearly 2 million head of live cattle are exported to the United States annually. The USDA tests approximately one cow out of every 2,000. Read the rest of this entry »

The mother of a Spanish man who died from the human form of mad cow disease has also died from the illness, Spain’s Ministry of Health said yesterday. Her disease was a variant of Creutzfeltd-Jakob disease (CJD) linked to the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) otherwise known as mad cow disease.

It is believed to be the first case in the world where two members of the same family have died from mad cow disease, said Juan Jose Badiola, director of Spain’s national research center for mad cow disease. Read the rest of this entry »

Public health officials in Massachusetts are investigating whether a patient in a Cape Cod hospital has the human form of mad cow disease.

Dr. Alfred DeMaria, the state’s director of communicable disease control, confirmed Sunday to The Associated Press that tests are being done to see if the patient has Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and whether it’s the variant attributed to mad cow.

Mad cow disease — medically known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE — causes spongy holes in the brain.  Eating meat products contaminated with mad cow disease is linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare and fatal human malady. Read more about mad cow disease at

DeMaria says it will take a few more days before the test results are available. He said there are about a half-dozen cases reported every year in Massachusetts and about 300 nationwide.  A spokesman for Cape Cod Hospital confirmed the facility had notified public health officials Thursday of a patient with test results that require reporting.

Police place South Korean flags on cargo containers that hold sand to form a barricade to block a protest march on a street leading to the U.S. embassy and the presidential Blue House in central Seoul June 10, 2008. The containers were welded together and on to the road. About one million people fearing infection of mad cow disease across the country demonstrated to demand full-scale renegotiation of a beef deal with the U.S. and the resignation of President Lee Myung-bak. Yesterday the entire cabinet offered to resign because of mounting public protests against the resumption of U.S. beef imports.

South Korea was the third-biggest buyer of U.S. beef before imposing a ban in December 2003 on concerns about the brain- wasting disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Scientists say BSE is spread in cattle by tainted animal feed. Eating contaminated meat from infected animals can cause a fatal human variant that has been blamed for the deaths of 151 people in the U.K., where it was first reported in the 1980s.

(Xinhua/Reuters Photo),

The Bush administration continues to delay a rule that could protect the public from being exposed to mad cow disease. The Food and Drug Administration rule would prohibit farms from using certain animal by-products as feed for cattle. (FDA rules already prohibit some similar kinds of feed. The current FDA proposal would strengthen existing regulations.)

Allowing cattle to feed on the rendered meat, bones, or blood of other cattle raises the risk of mad cow, also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). According to the agency, “FDA believes that the final rule would effectively remove about 90 percent of any remaining BSE infectivity from possible spread through the animal feed system. The U.S. economy may also benefit from increased exports to the extent that the rule persuades foreign governments to import U.S. beef products. While we are unable to quantify these benefits, they are potentially large…”

Even though FDA believes the benefits to be “potentially large,” the White House is likely more concerned about the potential costs to the agriculture industry.  Read rest of story here

A case of mad cow disease discovered in Canada in December involves an “atypical” (uncommon) strain of the infection also reported in Europe, Canadian officials said Wednesday.

Canada’s 11th case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also called mad cow disease, provides evidence that multiple strains of the affliction exist around the world, said the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

“Canada’s eleventh case of BSE has been attributed to a less prevalent, atypical strain of BSE which has also been reported in Europe. This is the second case of BSE in Canada that has involved an atypical strain,” the CFIA said.

MADRID – Two people in Spain have died of the human variant of mad cow disease, in the first such fatalities since 2005, officials said Monday.

The victims were ages 40 and 51, one died in December and the other in February, said Jose Javier Castrodeza, director of public health at the regional government. Until now Spain’s only fatality from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease came in 2005 with the death of a 26-year-old woman in Madrid.

Mad cow disease was first reported in Britain in the mid-1980s. Authorities believe eating meat from infected animals can cause the human variant of the fatal brain-wasting disease. Read the rest of this entry »

New mad cow case in Canada

February 28, 2008

Canada has confirmed a new case of mad cow disease, in a six-year-old dairy cow from Alberta. It is the second case in two months and the 12th since the disease was first discovered in Canada in 2003.

George Luterbach, a senior veterinarian, described the cow, according to Calgary Herald, as thin and weak and with deteriorating health causing it to collapse ten days ago in its farm located in Edmonton, Alberta.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says no part of the animal’s carcass entered the human food chain or animal feed system.The US Department of Agriculture has issued a statement saying the Canadian discovery will not affect trade between the two countries.