Mad cow disease - BSE - found on Scottish farm

Laverne Higgins
October 19, 2018

The Scottish government said precautionary restrictions have been put in place at the farm and further steps are being taken to identify the origin of the disease.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has said that a movement ban was now in place on the farm, which remains unnamed.

The appearance of the first cases of "mad cow disease" in 1986 in Britain caused a public health scare that lasted several years.

Sheila Voas said: "Sad to have confirmed a case of BSE in Aberdeenshire this morning, but good surveillance system is proved to work well".

All animals over four years of age that die on a farm are routinely tested for BSE under the Scottish government's comprehensive surveillance system.

More than 180,000 cattle were infected in the United Kingdom and 4.4 million slaughtered during an eradication program in the 1990s.

Still, there's concern that importers will cut off purchases of British beef because of fears linked to the disease.

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The animal did not enter the human food chain and the Food Standards Scotland authority confirmed there was "no risk to human health" resulting from the isolated case, the statement said.

BSE has been detected on a farm in Aberdeenshire, eastern Scotland.

America is also set to import British beef and lamb for the first time in 20 years - after branding the meat unfit for consumption and banning it from the market.

When transmitted to humans, it is known as new Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD or nvCJD).

Mad cow disease is a "progressive neurological disorder of cattle that results from infection by an unusual transmissible agent called a prion", according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"Consumers can be reassured that these important protection measures remain in place and that Food Standards Scotland official veterinarians and meat hygiene inspectors working in all abattoirs in Scotland will continue to ensure that in respect of BSE controls, the safety of consumers remains a priority". Before that, the animal becomes aggressive and loses its coordination, which is why the illness has been dubbed "mad cow disease".

Professor Matthew Baylis, chair of veterinary epidemiology at Liverpool University, said one case was detected in Britain in 2014 and two in 2015.

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