Mad cow disease case halts Brazil’s beef exports to China: What is it?

Source: The post is based on the article “Mad cow disease case halts Brazil’s beef exports to China: What is it?” published in Hindustan Times on 23rd February 2023.

What is the News?

Recently, Brazil has halted its beef exports to China after a case of Mad Cow Disease was confirmed in China. It will have a massive impact as China is the main destination for Brazil’s beef exports.

What is Mad Cow Disease?

It is a degenerative, transmissible, slowly progressive, and fatal infection that affects the central nervous system of adult cattle. It is also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

Causes: It is caused by a protein called a prion normally found on cell surfaces. The normal prion protein changes into an abnormal prion protein that is harmful. After getting altered, these proteins destroy the nervous system tissue-the brain and spinal cord.

Note: The reason for the abnormal prion formation is still unknown.

Transmission: A cow gets BSE by eating feed contaminated with parts that came from another cow that was sick with BSE.

Symptoms: A sick cow has trouble walking and getting up and may also act very nervous or violent. Once a cow starts to show symptoms, it gets sicker and sicker until it dies, usually within two weeks to six months.

It usually takes four to six years from the time a cow is infected with the abnormal prion to when it first shows symptoms of BSE. This is called the incubation period. During the incubation period, there is no way to tell that a cow has BSE by looking at it.

Treatment: There is no treatment and no vaccine to prevent BSE.

The body of a sick cow does not even know the abnormal prion is there. Without knowing, the cow’s body cannot fight off the disease.

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