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Mad Cow (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) - GIANTmicrobes® Keychain  - LabRatGifts - 1

Mad Cow (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) - GIANTmicrobes® Keychain

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Mad Cow (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) Keychain

When bovine prions stampede the wrong way, everyone says Moo! (Each doll has its own unique pattern.)

  • Great gag gift for your favorite carnivore
  • Fun way to tell someone they've stepped over the line
  • Learn about this infamous microbial celebrity

Learn about Mad Cow Disease

BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) is a progressive neurological disorder of cattle resulting from infection by an unusual transmissible agent called a prion. The nature of the transmissible agent is not well understood. Currently, the most accepted theory is that the agent is a modified form of a normal protein known as prion protein. For reasons that are not yet understood, the normal prion protein changes into a pathogenic (harmful) form that then damages the central nervous system of cattle. 

NAMEBovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as “Mad Cow Disease”.  

ACTUAL SIZE: The protein prion, the cause of this disease, is about 33 nm in diameter 

ORIGINS: The disease originates in an abnormal protein located on the surface of cells found in the brain, spinal cords, or small intestines. 

SYSTEMAttacks the central nervous system. 

COMMONALITY: There have only been four confirmed cases in the USA. From 1986 to 2001, a British outbreak affected 180,000 cattle but was contained well. 

SYMPTOMS: Incoordination, difficulty walking or standing up, and acting nervous or violent (emphasis on the mad portion of the name Mad Cow Disease). 

CUREThere is currently no cure or vaccination for this disease. 

DEADLINESS /SEVERITY: There have been no cases of an animal surviving this illness. 

INFECTIOUSNESSThe illness only spreads if a cow that died of Mad Cow Disease is fed to other cattle. Before the disease was researched, enormous outbreaks occurred from single cow. Nowadays, it is very easy to contain once identified. Incubation period is anywhere between four and six years. 


In the 1980‘s The University of California discovered that samples of the infected cows had BSEThe first documented outbreaks of the disease occurred in the United Kingdom in 1986“Bovine” means that the disease affects cows, “Spongiform” references the spongy texture of an infected brain, while “Encephalopathy” indicates that it is a disease of the brain. 

Big Outbreaks: In 1988, 421 cows were diagnosed, by 1993, 120,000 cattle were diagnosed. 


Humans cannot contract BSE, but a vCJD from consuming infected beefThoroughly cooking meat will not disinfect itBoth cows and humans will not know they are infected until years later. When they start showing symptoms, death generally occurs within two weeks to six months. 

In Culture: 

In the film We Are What We Are, a family member succumbs to the human form of the diseaseDiscussed on the “Oprah” television show on April 15th, 1996.   

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