Considers recent developments in bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and their relation to Creutzfeldt Jakob disease (CJD). Sheep scrapie is now known to be irrelevant to the cause of both BSE and CJD. The range of species of animals acquiring novel spongiform encephalopathies continues to broaden. The failure to find infectivity in many tissues of BSE cattle has been due to the use of an inappropriate and insensitive assay method. The occurrence of vertical transfer of BSE from dam to calf is now accepted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), as shown by the recent removal from the human food chain of intestines and the thymus from young calves. During the last year, the probability that CJD is caused by BSE has increased.
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