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What is Mad Cow Disease and How Can It Effect Myself and My Family?

Updated on April 25, 2012

Recently the fourth reported case of "Mad Cow Disease" was reported in central California by the USDA. While health officials are attempting to downplay the scenario, they are claiming that very little risk to the general population exists. Since it was only detected in one bovine individual, this is not a reason to start panicking like when the Swine Flu was reported to be the planet's next epidemic. So what exactly is this disease and how does it effect every day people?

Well the technical term is actually "Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or BSE for short. This is a type of disease that can spread among cows that is thought to be the cause of a disease in humans called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. It spreads amongst the bovine population by recycling cow carcasses by using them in cow and livestock feed. It sounds a bit barbaric, and canabalistic, but it's how we feed our cattle.

In the animal form of the disease, it can cause decreased milk production in dairy cows, aggressive behavior and effect animal coordination, often times making it difficult for the animal to actually stand up. In the human form, confusion, dementia, hallucinations, and muscle twitching along with seizures and speech impairment are common symptoms.

The reason why people panic is because unlike other forms of meat bourn illnesses like Ecoli, Mad Cow Disease can't be killed by proper cooking and there is no known cure. I know everyone enjoys the delicious ease of a medium rare steak, but if the meat is infected, then even cooking your beef to a crispy well done state wouldn't kill the disease. In addition, this disease is fast acting, normally contributing to the patient's death within 8 months or less and within 6 months someone who has contracted this disease would be unable to care for themselves.

The deadliest outbreaks occurred in Great Britain in the 80's and 90's where Over 150 people died from the disease. Worldwide though, only 29 cases were reported last year. Down 99% from 1992, when there were 37,311 cases reported.

Although the CDC is stressing, that human contact within the US is an unlikely scenario, it is best to stay away from bovine products such as their actual brains and spinal chords when cooking. Who would cook and eat that any? Cow Zombies excluded of course! In addition, cuts of beef on the bone (like Delicious T Bones) can help you avoid this disease. Or you can just stick to pork for a little while.


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    • RichardPac profile image

      RichardPac 5 years ago from Sunny Florida!

      Thanks! I try to be informative in a creative way. I actually know of some who's father does of the disease in the 90's so when I heard the topic come up again I wanted to help other avoid panic.

    • scottsalot profile image

      scottsalot 5 years ago from Oakland California

      Thanks, very informative, especially since it just hit California again. I like the cow zombie line too!