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Mad Cow Disease and Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob (cont.)

Mad Cow Disease and Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Symptoms and Signs

Infected adult cattle may develop signs of the disease slowly. It may take from two to eight years from the time an animal becomes infected until it first shows signs of disease. Symptoms in the animal include a change in attitude and behavior, gradual uncoordinated movements, trouble standing and walking, weight loss despite having an appetite, and decreased milk production. Eventually the animal dies. From the onset of symptoms, the animal deteriorates until it either dies or is destroyed (cattle who cannot stand are called "downers"). This disease process may take from two weeks to six months.

Similar symptoms may develop in humans: muscle spasms, lack of muscle control, worsening problems with memory.

Researchers looked at the first 100 people to develop vCJD in the United Kingdom and found psychiatric symptoms in early stages of the disease. These included depression, withdrawal, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. Within four months of the disease onset, those affected developed poor memory and an unsteady gait.

When to Seek Medical Care

People or their caregivers should seek medical care if a person is experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of BSE or vCJD such as memory problems or muscle control, especially in younger individuals.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/8/2015

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Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease, and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) are related disorders.

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