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Isolated Case Of BSE Identified On Irish Farm

Expert Lawyers At Irwin Mitchell Welcome Reassuring Action After BSE Discovery


An isolated case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease, was identified in a cow at an Irish farm in June 2015.

The cow from a dairy farm in County Louth in the Republic of Ireland did not enter the food chain and the remainder of the herd, which have been slaughtered, tested negative and were also excluded from the food chain.

BSE is a disease that affects adult cattle by attacking the brain and central nervous system of the animal ultimately causing their death. The infectious agent in BSE is understood to be a specific type of misfolded protein called a prion.

It first identified in a UK laboratory in 1986 at a time where meat and bone meal was commonly used in cattle feed. Experts understand that BSE was most likely spread by cattle eating feed that contained contaminated meat and bone meal as the prions which carry the infectious agent of BSE are not destroyed even when the material containing them is subjected to high heats.

The disease may be transmitted to humans by eating food contaminated with the tissues of the infected carcasses with the brain, spinal cord and digestive tract holding the highest concentration of the infectious agent.

BSE only occurs in cows; in humans, it is known as new variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (vCJD or nvCJD). vCJD is a fatal neurological disease which affects the nervous system and brain causing a rapid deterioration in the individual’s faculties. In the UK 177 people have died as a result of vCJD linked with the consumption of potentially BSE infected beef products.

Rachel FitzGerald, an expert lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, who acts on behalf of a number of vCJD victims said: “This cow was identified as having BSE following its death due to the robust food safety controls which are now in place both in Ireland and the UK to ensure that BSE contaminated beef does not enter the food chain. 

“It is reassuring to know that the authorities continue to act so rigorously to seek to control and eliminate any possibility of further contamination entering the consumer market.

“Having witnessed the devastation vCJD can have on the lives of its victims and their families it is clear than no action taken by the authorities to protect the consumer against this risk can be considered too vigilant.” 

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