Published: Fri, October 19, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

'Mad cow disease' tests continue after Aberdeenshire discovery

'Mad cow disease' tests continue after Aberdeenshire discovery

It has been linked to the brain-wasting Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.

A case of BSE, or so-called "mad cow disease", has been identified at a farm in Scotland, a decade since it was last confirmed.

The Scottish Government said the incident did not represent a threat to human health, but livestock on the farm are being quarantined while further investigations take place.

Investigations are now under way to work out the origin of the disease, but the case was identified before anything had entered the human food chain.

Fergus Ewing, Scotland's farming minister, said: "Following confirmation of a case of classical BSE in Aberdeenshire, I have activated the Scottish government's response plan to protect our valuable farming industry, including establishing a precautionary movement ban being placed on the farm".

Australian cattle are free of BSE, which attacks a cows central nervous system and often kills them.

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Holstein Friesian cattle at pasture in Scotland UK.

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"While it is important to stress that this is standard procedure until we have a clear understanding of the diseases origin, this is further proof that our surveillance system for detecting this type of disease is working".

Though it is not directly transmitted between animals, "its cohorts, including offspring" will now be destroyed in line with European Union requirements, the Scottish government said.

Officials have stressed that the latest case doesn't pose a risk to human health, though any farmer with any concerns is urged to seek immediate veterinary advice.

Back in the 90s there was a big problem with BSE and we've learned an terrible lot of lessons from then and there are various controls in place to make sure that never happens again.

"We will continue to work closely with Scottish Government, other agencies and industry at this time".

But now Chief vet Sheila Voas said up to four other cows on the farm will also be slaughtered and tested for the disease.

BSE was first discovered in the United Kingdom back in 1986, when more than 180,000 were infected with the disase when it was at its height - peaking in 1993 with nearly 1,000 new cases per week, with 4.4 million slaughtered as part of the eradication programme.

It is thought to be caused by proteins known as prions.

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