What is "mad cow disease"?

How is "mad cow disease" spread?

Has the United States ever had a case of "mad cow disease"?

Is "mad cow disease" found in the beef we eat?  


What is "mad cow disease"?
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, commonly referred to as "mad cow disease") is a degenerative neurological disease affecting the central nervous system in cattle.

How is "mad cow disease" spread?
BSE does not spread from animal to animal contact or from animals to humans through normal contact. BSE can only be transmitted through feed containing meat and bone meal (MBM) from BSE-infected cattle. In 1997, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of such ruminant-derived protein supplements in cattle feed. The feed ban breaks the cycle of BSE and, with full compliance, assures the disease will be eliminated.

Has the United States ever had a case of "mad cow disease"?
The first case of BSE in the United States was announced Dec. 23, 2003, and was found in a Washington state dairy cow imported from Canada. In addition, two cases of BSE in cattle born prior to the U.S. feed ban and raised in the United States also have been reported, one in 2005 and another in 2006. In 2012, a fourth animal tested positive for atypical BSE, a very rare form of the disease not generally associated with an animal consuming infected feed. All cases were detected through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) BSE surveillance program.

Is "mad cow disease" found in the beef we eat?
The BSE agent has not been found in beef such as steaks, roasts and ground beef; it is found in central nervous system tissue such as brain and spinal cord. These specified risk materials (SRM) are banned from the food supply.  

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