Mad Cow Disease

It is also acknowledged as bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE, it is a deadly disease caused by prions which destroy the brain and spinal cord in cattle. It has been noted that anyone cannot get this disease, however, in rare cases, they can have a human form of this disease known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease .Even this condition is fatal. It happens only if you eat the nerve tissue of cattle which is infected with mad cow disease. This disease over the time destroys the spinal cord and the brain. It has been found that the infected cattle have abnormal proteins called prions which are found in the brain tissue of the animal. Such animals have characteristics changes in the brain. As a precautionary measure, anyone who has spent more than three months in places where this health issue has been found is not allowed to donate blood in either USA or Canada. This is done to help prevent the spreading of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

BSE or Mad cow disease is a progressive neurological disease of cattle which happens due to an infection by an unusual transmissible agent called prion. The details are not yet well understood and it is believed that the prion protein changes into a pathogenic form that affects and harms the central nervous system. It is believed that the mad cow disease in cattle and humans are directly related and is caused by the consumption of meat from the infected animals. The first case of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease was reported in the year 1970 and two cases of Mad cow disease were identified in the year 1986. Most of the cases are either not reported or diagnosed.

In most of the case studies done, it has not been confirmed yet the actual cause of Mad cow disease. It is believed that it is caused by prions made up of protein.

Some of the common symptoms of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) are Dementia, Psychotic behavior, coma, tingling, prickling sensation in the face, hands, feet, and legs and unable to move body parts. The symptoms are common to other diseases hence having these symptoms does not mean you have Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). In some cases, if the person does not eat the infected meat, they may not feel sick right away. The symptoms may take years to occur.

As of yet no single test can be used to diagnose Mad cow disease in humans. The diagnosis needs to be done by a doctor, who will discuss the medical history, the place where the person has lived and the symptoms. The doctor can also prescribe MRI to check the brain for any changes caused by Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). The confirmation is done only through a brain biopsy. There are works going on to develop a blood test for Mad cow disease in humans, however, it is not developed yet.

As of yet, there are no treatments for this disease. The treatment mostly comprises of managing the signs that occur as the disease gets bad.