What you need to know about BSE and the current case

PA

What is BSE?

BSE stands for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy – a disease which infects cows, attacks their central nervous system and is generally fatal. Symptoms typically include a lack of co-ordination and aggression, leading it to be known as mad cow disease.

Can it be passed to humans?

Scientists believe the disease can be passed to humans through the food chain, causing a fatal condition called new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD).

When was the last case in Scotland?

This case the Scottish Government has confirmed on an Aberdeenshire farm is the first in Scotland for more than a decade.

When was the last UK outbreak?

A widespread BSE outbreak which began in the UK in the late 1980s reached its peak in 1992/1993 with 100,000 confirmed cases. However there were two more recent cases in 2015.

Is food affected?

In the latest case, no. A ban on the use of high risk offal for human consumption was introduced in 1989, leading many to fear eating burgers. But the following year, then Agriculture Minister John Gummer claimed beef is “completely safe” and appeared on TV trying to get his four-year-old daughter to eat a beefburger.