Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

This disease is the classical case of a disease that should never have happened and, having happened, should have been promptly contained before becoming widespread and problematical.

It is widely believed that there were elements of man-made aetiology, leading to the first cases. There are several theories, organophosphate treatments of cattle or inclusion of animal material in food for herbivores being two front-runners.

Sadly, the then Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF) refused to take a grip on the problem, when it became reality. They appeared to be unable to take any effective action until the cause had become known (several years passed).

In the early months and years, compensation offered to farmers for an affected animal was grossly inadequate, resulting in severe temptation not to notify cases. As a result, an unknown number of affected cattle entered the human food chain or were allowed to breed. Official diagnosis of individual cases was slow, compared to diagnosis by vets and farmers in the field, which compounded the foregoing. There was corporate denial of the need to take into account the possibility of mother-to-offspring (vertical) spread, despite many warnings being offered.

The result was an extremely damaging blow to the cattle-farming industry of the UK, a serious implication for human health and a lasting legacy of unknown latent risk to human health.

Only in 2006, did the market start to return to normal but the aftermath cannot be counted for at least a human generation.

The AVMC will not treat BSE, since it is a Notifiable Disease and we are concerned that treatment may not be in the interests of the individual animal or that of animals at large.

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