Germany reports mad cow disease case

Seven big chunks of dark red meat on a shelf, three rows
Cuts of beef on shelves inside a refrigerator in Glossop, Britain, September 27, 2021, photo: Reuters/Phil Noble

Germany has reported a case of mad cow disease in a cow in the south of the country, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Thursday.

Mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE, is a fatal disease that slowly destroys an infected animal’s brain and spinal cord. There’s no cure for it.

The case of BSE in Germany was detected in a 14-year-old cow in Bavaria, the OIE said, citing a report from German authorities.

Humans can get a form of mad cow disease called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) if they eat nerve tissue of an animal infected with mad cow disease. Over time, vCJD destroys the brain and spinal cord of a person.

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 232 people worldwide are known to have become sick with vCJD. They all died. The FDA said that “it is thought that they got the disease from eating food made from cows sick with BSE.”

On Monday, China said it had banned the import of British beef from cows under 30 months of age due to a case of mad cow disease in the country last month; a cow on a farm in Somerset got infected with BSE and died.

In early September, China also suspended imports of beef from Brazil, its top supplier, after Brazil reported two cases of mad cow disease.

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