BSE appears again

It has been confirmed that a 25-year-old woman, residing in Sicily, has the human variant of Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis (BSE), named vCJD (New Variant Creuzfeld-Jacob Disease). BSE, otherwise known as Mad Cow Disease, is passed on to humans as vCJD by eating contaminated meat.

Although endemic in cattle, the many cases of the mid 1990s all around Europe, but particularly in the United Kingdom, where up to 90 cases of vCJD have been confirmed, were provoked by the consumption of meat from animals fed with protein-enriched feed.

This was feed made from pulverised bone marrow and brains of other cows, mixed into a flour to promote more rapid growth. This interference with the basic laws of nature (cows eat grass) naturally produced side effects, this being a form of concentrated protein, named a prion, causing BSE, through the forced cannibalistic consumption of the brain of the same species.

The prion gravitates to the highest protein mass, the brain, where it absorbs the protein around it, the brain cells. This causes a gradual destruction of the central nervous system. Symptoms in humans are irascibility (bad humour), motor failure (unsteady gait), finally plucking movements of the arms, lameness, inability to speak, staring eyes and death, usually within 6 months to one year of the first symptoms. Incubation can be as long as 20 years, so infected meat consumed in the early 1980s could produce symptoms now.

The Italian Superior Institute of Health declared that “This is the first and only case identified in Italy since 1993”. The lady in question could have consumed the infected meat before more strict control methods were put into place.


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Author`s name Editorial Team