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Four cows have been killed on a farm in Scotland after another animal was found to be suffering from BSE – also known as Mad Cow Disease.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is a disease which destroys cows’ brains, attacking their nervous system. The illness was accelerated in the eighties and nineties after farmers fed cattle infected meat and bonemeal – including brain and spinal cord. The disease can spread to humans who eat infected animals in the form of Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (CJD).

A ban is now reportedly in place on the Aberdeenshire farm with investigations underway to try and determine the origin of this case, which was discovered in routine tests on the animal after death.

The illness was accelerated in the 80s and 90s when cows were fed infected meat and bonemeal

Human health

All mainstream news reports so far have focused on the human angle of the story – with Food Standards Scotland saying it’s an isolated case and there’s no risk to human health.

Speaking generally about the suffering of farmed cows, vegan organization Animal Aid has said: “Cattle are susceptible to a number of diseases that can prove fatal in both humans and bovines.

“The spread of some of these illnesses can be attributed to particular farming practices, including food regimes, moving cattle between herds, and poor hygiene and biosecurity. Some of the serious outbreaks of cattle disease in recent decades have included…BSE (or ‘mad cow disease’), which causes serious neurological damage in cows and humans.

“Whilst there is legislation in place to prevent some of these illnesses from spreading amongst animals and infecting humans, sporadic outbreaks continue.”

Maria Chiorando

Maria is the editor of Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle.