Section 10
Chapter 9,996

Testing for BSE

Giese, J.

Food Technology 58(3): 60, 66


ISSN/ISBN: 0015-6639
Accession: 009995054

The writer examines the current status of tests available to diagnose bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Evidence suggests that transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) such as BSE in cattle and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in humans are caused by proteins called prions and that these prions can be passed from animals to humans by humans eating infected meat. There is currently no method of diagnosing TSEs in live humans or animals; diagnosis is usually confirmed by an examination of the brain postmortem. The European Union has approved 5 tests that can be used to diagnose BSE in slaughtered cattle. However, these tests are limited by the fact that a high accumulation of the disease-causing prions needs to be present in brain tissue to give a positive result. The overall lack of knowledge about TSEs has hampered the development of more sensitive tests.

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