Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow Disease (MCD) is a transmissible slowly progressive, neurodegenerative, and deadly disease of central nervous system of an adult cattle.
The disease is caused due to formation of abnormal proteins called Prions which build inside the brain of cow and damages it.
It is believed by most scientists that the disease may be transmitted to human beings who eat the brain or spinal cord of cattle infected with mad cow disease. Human version of mad cow disease is known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD or nvCJD). There has been small number of cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease reported, mainly in Britain, happening in people who consumed beef products tainted with central nervous system tissues, such as brain and spinal cord, from cattle infected with mad cow disease. There is a strong scientific ground that the infectious agent Prion (misfolded protein) that causes BSE in cattle is also responsible for causing Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in human beings.
The disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease which primarily affects older people, is very hard to diagnose until it has nearly run its course. The incubation period of variant CJD appears to be several years or longer. In the early stages of vCJD people have neurological symptoms like depressions, insomnia, confusion, personality and behavioral changes, and problems with memory co-ordination and vision. As the disease progresses, the person rapidly develops dementia and mutism and abrupt spasmodic movements called myoclonus these abnormalities in brain can be detected by X-rays or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).
In the last stage of the disease, the patient loses all physical and mental function, lapses into coma and eventually dies within 1-2 years. Currently there is no treatment for this disease. Variant CJD is only acquired through contaminated beef products people can reduce their risk by either abstaining from beef completely or eating only solid pieces of muscle meat, such as steak, rather than products like sausage or processed meat.
More Articles :