The UK beef industry has been rattled after mad cow disease was found on a farm in Scotland. Picture: Supplied
The UK beef industry has been rattled after mad cow disease was found on a farm in Scotland. Picture: Supplied

Deadly mad cow disease hits UK again

A NEW case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease, has been discovered on a British beef farm.

There is not yet believed to be a threat to humans, as a probe at the farm in Aberdeenshire gets underway.

This is the first case of the disease in three years in the UK and the first confirmed in Scotland since 2008, it is understood.

The last outbreak in Britain was in Wales in 2015 when the disease was discovered on a dead cow.

The mad cow disease case is the first in Scotland since 2008. Picture: Supplied
The mad cow disease case is the first in Scotland since 2008. Picture: Supplied

The UK death toll from BSE is currently at 177 since Stephen Churchill, 19, died of a fatal brain condition linked to mad cow disease in 1995.

Restrictions are in place at the farm in Scotland as an investigation into the outbreak continues.

A Scottish Government statement said: "This is standard procedure for a confirmed case of classical BSE, which does not represent a threat to human health."

Chief Veterinary Officer Sheila Voas said: "I would urge any farmer who has concerns to seek veterinary advice."

Panic gripped the UK in 1995 as more than four million cattle were slaughtered to stop the infection spreading.

More than 180,000 cattle were thought to have been struck down by the disease and the EU put a ban on importing British beef between 1996 and 2006.

Only one person has died from mad cow disease in Britain since 2012.

Australian beef is mad cow disease free, and a ban on British beef imports has been in place since 1996. Picture: Supplied
Australian beef is mad cow disease free, and a ban on British beef imports has been in place since 1996. Picture: Supplied

The outbreak could come as a huge blow to British farmers ahead of Brexit - with fears already growing that a no trade deal could kill the market.

It comes just months after British beef went back on the menu in China for the first time since the BSE crisis erupted 20 years ago.

America is also set to import British beef and lamb for the first time in 20 years - after branding the meat unfit for consumption and banning it from the market.

IS MAD COW DISEASE IN AUSTRALIA?

Australian cattle are free of BSE, which attacks a cows central nervous system and often kills them.

Symptoms typically include a lack of co-ordination and aggression, leading it to be known as mad cow disease.

The Australian Government locked out the importation of British beef and beef products after the disease was linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in 1996. The degenerative brain disorder can form in humans if they eat mad cow-ridden meat.

Mad cow disease can cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a condition that can lead to death in humans. Picture: Supplied
Mad cow disease can cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a condition that can lead to death in humans. Picture: Supplied

If an Aussie contracts vCJD, it will likely be because they travelled regularly, or lived for some time in the UK from 1980 to 1996, according to the Australian Department of Health.

An outbreak in the UK in the late 1980s reached its peak in 1992/1993 with 100,000 confirmed cases. But there were two more recent cases in 2015.

The latest case has not affected humans.

 

This is an edited version of a story that originally appeared on The Sun. It is republished with permission.


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