Mad Cow Disease and Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob (cont.)
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Prevention of Mad Cow Disease and Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
Public-health authorities maintain that the food supply in the U.S. is extremely safe. Additionally, the number of cases in the U.K. has decreased dramatically over the past decades. Still, the only absolute way to avoid infection is to entirely eliminate the consumption of beef and other animals that may be prion-infected. Milk and milk products from sheep can transmit prions; currently cow's milk has not been linked as a means of prion transmittal but few studies have been done.
The U.S. government has implemented a number of measures to prevent BSE from entering the U.S. and to prevent the spread of the disease, as outlined by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Some of these measures include the following:
Live animal tests may provide valuable information about the level of BSE in all animals, including downer cattle and cattle aged 24 months or older (those most at risk and in whom BSE is found). However, currently there is no sensitive and reliable live animal test for BSE and the only definitive test can be made on the brain and other tissues after slaughter.
Prognosis of Mad Cow Disease and Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
Human prion diseases are devastating and incurable but extremely rare. Fears that an epidemic of the animal disease (BSE) would lead to an epidemic of the human form (vCJD) have not occurred, even in the U.K., where entire herds of diseased cattle were destroyed and over 184,000 animals were known to develop the disease.
For More Information Mad Cow and Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Diseases
California Department of Food and Agriculture, Statement From CDFA Secretary Karen Ross on USDA Announcement of Detection of BSE
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or Mad Cow Disease)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Prion Diseases
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, All About BSE
World Health Organization, Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
Medically reviewed by Robert Cox, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Infectious Disease
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/17/2016
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Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease, and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) are related disorders.