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Isolated case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in France

24 Mar 2016 | By Inserm (Newsroom) | France

This Thursday, 24 March, the Ministry of Agriculture confirmed an isolated case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, at a farm in Ardennes. The case was detected in a 5-year-old cow sent for rendering, “a method for processing animals that die on farms, and are therefore not intended for human consumption,” states AFP. In France, the last case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy dates back to 2011.


BSE is a prion disease that affected UK farms in the 1980s, and spread to Europe and the rest of the world. Feeding animals meat and bone meal contaminated with crushed carcasses resulted in the spread of BSE.

The appearance of a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans in the UK and France, and then in many countries around the world in the 1990s, raised deep concerns among consumers who worried about the risk of transmission of the bovine prion to humans. The link between the BSE epidemic and the new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans was easily established by researchers.

The ban on meat and bone meal, livestock surveillance and BSE testing are some of the measures that have been developed since then, in order to limit the risk of contamination.

What are the routes and mechanisms for transmission of a bovine prion to humans? What are the risks of secondary transmission? What are the consequences for health? How is the disease managed?

Researchers from Inserm are available to answer your questions.

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Researcher Contact

Stéphane Haik

Directeur de recherche Inserm

Unité Inserm 1127 “Institut du cerveau et de la moelle épinière”

01 57 27 45 15 / 01 42 16 26 28


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