Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease, is a progressive neurological disorder found in cattle. When cattle have this disease, it begins to deteriorate the brain and nervous system.

BSE is one of the few prion diseases found in animals. There are others that affect people, including Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. Prion diseases are rare neurodegenerative disorders that are rapidly progressive and are always fatal to the infected party.

How does this affect people?

According to the CDC, there’s a casual association between BSE and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD). Consumption of BSE-contaminated food could lead to vCJD, which is a deadly prion disease and has no known treatment.

Please visit the CDC website for more information on Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy.

Disease Fact Sheet


This material is provided by the South Dakota Department of Health for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical care. We are not able to answer personal medical questions. Please see your health care provider concerning appropriate care, treatment, or other medical advice.

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