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Prion diseases as transmissible zoonotic diseases

Prion diseases as transmissible zoonotic diseases

Osong Public Health and Research Perspectives 4(1): 57-66

Prion diseases, also called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), lead to neurological dysfunction in animals and are fatal. Infectious prion proteins are causative agents of many mammalian TSEs, including scrapie (in sheep), chronic wasting disease (in deer and elk), bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE; in cattle), and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD; in humans). BSE, better known as mad cow disease, is among the many recently discovered zoonotic diseases. BSE cases were first reported in the United Kingdom in 1986. Variant CJD (vCJD) is a disease that was first detected in 1996, which affects humans and is linked to the BSE epidemic in cattle. vCJD is presumed to be caused by consumption of contaminated meat and other food products derived from affected cattle. The BSE epidemic peaked in 1992 and decreased thereafter; this decline is continuing sharply owing to intensive surveillance and screening programs in the Western world. However, there are still new outbreaks and/or progression of prion diseases, including atypical BSE, and iatrogenic CJD and vCJD via organ transplantation and blood transfusion. This paper summarizes studies on prions, particularly on prion molecular mechanisms, BSE, vCJD, and diagnostic procedures. Risk perception and communication policies of the European Union for the prevention of prion diseases are also addressed to provide recommendations for appropriate government policies in Korea.

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Accession: 036707957

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PMID: 24159531

DOI: 10.1016/j.phrp.2012.12.008

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