Mad Cow Disease! Hari Kumar Medical Microbiology
Mad Cow Disease (MCD) - Introduction• It’s formal name is Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, but we know it as Mad Cow Disease.• It causes the breakage of spongy tissue in the brain and spinal cord of cows.• By eating the brain or spinal cord of cows that are affected by this disease, we humans can get this disease.
MCD – In Humans• When in humans instead of Mad Cow Disease, it is called Cruetzfeld - Jakob Disease.• This disease had mostly attacked the United Kingdom, killing 166 people in that country. But it has also spread to places like the USA, Canada, and Ireland.• 44 people not living in the UK have been killed worldwide.
MCD – How it Happens?• Prion (Proteinaceous Infectious Particles) proteins cause MCD as they turn the normal protein of a cow into a diseased protein.• This causes the protein to deform the tissue into an infectious tissue.• The result of this is holes in the brain, mental and physical deformities, and eventually death.
MCD – History• The origins of this disease were first noted by Hippocrates in 500 BCE in cattle and then in humans.• Also Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus recorded signs of this disease in 400 CE.• Then in the 1970’s the British government took note of this disease and published their findings.
MCD - Symptoms• During the incubation period of this prion, there are no noticeable symptoms.• Once the disease is present, the only way to detect it is to have your brain “scanned” and exam some of your brain tissue.• The symptoms in cows may be loss in milk production, lethargy, and anorexia.
MCD – Prevention• There is no real way at this point to cure the disease although they are taking measures to try to prevent it.• In countries that have this disease present, they banned having cattle or bone meat fed to the cows. Also in the UK Slaughter houses, the body parts that are infected in cows must be disposed of properly.
MCD – Why does it matter?• This disease, though it hasn’t killed as many humans as other diseases, has killed many cows and they are living organisms too!• Over 200 people have been killed and you can’t just look over that!• We have to be careful with our cows and look after them so they will stay safe and so will we!