bovine spongiform encephalopathy



  • The so-called mad cow disease caused by an infective agent (prion) which causes scrapie in sheep and which has been passed on to cattle by feeding them with sheep offal. It has now been shown that the agent can be transmitted to other animals and there is a strong presumption that it can cause a new type of Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease in humans especially amongst those who consumed the cheaper types of manufactured beef products in the 1980s. There is considerable evidence that the incubation period depends on the amount of the agent ingested. It has led to a decrease in the consumption of beef and the banning of the sale of certain parts of the beef carcass.


  • noun a fatal brain disease of cattle.


  • noun a fatal disease of cattle, affecting the nervous system.