By Barry Mason
27 December 2008
News reports have raised the spectre of a second wave of deaths in Britain from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease vCJD as a result of people, overwhelmingly young adults, having consumed meat or meat products from cattle infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow Disease.
The first case of BSE was in Britain in 1984. It was associated with the growing practice of recycling the corpses of dead farm animals in the production of protein cattle feed. A similar disease in sheep had been recognised for many years. It is thought that the prion agent which causes the disease in sheep, Scrapie, had been able to jump the species barrier and infect cattle as well—the result of recycling animal remains in the production of cattle protein pellets.
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