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Mad Cow Disease Spread By Deer Manure

10 September 2009

GENERAL - Brain-destroying prion disease can be spread by deer faeces, suggests a study published by the British Nature Journal.

Researchers at The University of California have proven that manure from deer infected with forms of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) is infectious. The research conducted on mice not only shows that susceptible mice could be infected with prions, but that infected deer may shed nearly as many prions in their faeces as accumulated in their brains at the time of death. Researchers are investigating where other species of animals can spread the disease through manure.

This break-through supports data that faecal-oral routes are a likely natural transmission mechanism. Up until now, experts have assumed prion diseases only spread as result of infected animals being fed to ruminants through the feed-chain. This research raises serious questions about the effectiveness of the present practices banning swill and meat and bone meal to ruminents.

The Weekly Times reports that in the UK alone 4.4 million cattle were slaughtered after an outbreak of BSE. BSE also known as mad-cow disease causes the human brain to waste away through Cruetzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD).

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