Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as BSE or “mad cow disease,” is an illness that affects both human and cattle brains. Most experts claim it is prompted by a prion, which is an abnormal protein in brain tissue that can induce fatal disease if consumed.

Humans who consume BSE-contaminated products may acquire variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. This disease is referred to as a ‘variant’ to distinguish it from a distinct, biologically procured human disease known as classic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.


Incoordination is a common symptom of BSE in cows. A sick cow has difficulty walking and standing. A sick cow may also exhibit violent or nervous behavior, which is why BSE is also referred to as “mad cow disease.”

It usually takes 4 to 6 years for a cow to develop BSE symptoms after being infected with the unusual prion. This is known as the incubation period. When a cow begins to exhibit symptoms, it becomes increasingly ill until it dies, which usually occurs within two weeks to six months.

When humans become infected, the following symptoms are common:

  • Memory loss
  • Personality changes
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty swallowing and speaking
  • Incoordination
  • Impaired thinking
  • Jerky movements
  • Blurred vision or, worst, blindness


Only a brain biopsy or an autopsy examination after death can verify the existence of the disease. However, depending on your medical history, a neurological examination, and some such diagnostic tests, the physician can often make a precise diagnosis.

The examination is likely to uncover signs, including unusual reflexes, coordination issues, muscle spasms and twitching. Individuals may also have blind spots and changes in their visual-spatial perception.

Furthermore, doctors frequently use the following tests to aid in the detection of CJD:

  • MRI
  • Electroencephalogram
  • Spinal fluid tests


Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and Bovine spongiform encephalopathy have no effective treatments. Numerous drugs have been tested and found to be inefficient. As a result, healthcare providers concentrate on relieving pain and other signs and making patients more comfortable.

You can, however, still protect yourself from the disease. Certain cattle tissues are not permitted to be used in human foods due to regulations. Import limitations prevent BSE-positive cattle from coming into the country like the US, and the disease is being monitored.

Speak with your doctor to learn more about treatment and prevention options.

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