Mad Cow Disease

Kendell Martin

Causative Agent

  • an abnormal version of a protein normally found on cell surfaces, called a prion.

Description of the disease

  • A transmissible, slowly progressive, degenerative, and fatal disease affecting the central nervous system of adult cattle.


  • It has an incubation period of months to years, during which there are no symptoms
  • At present, there is virtually no way to detect Mad Cow Disease except by examining post mortem brain tissues

How the disease is transmitted

  • By eating food contaminated with the brain, spinal cord, or digestive tract of infected carcasses

Relative frequency of the disease

  • According to the CDC, four deaths have been identified in the U.S. However, it's believed those cases were caused by consumption of meat outside the U.S.
  • Occurs each year at a rate of one to two cases per 1 million people throughout the world,

Disease course

  • Abnormal protein called a prion is produced in the cow
  • Cow becomes unable to walk, is old, or shows signs of neurological problems
  • Cow is killed for its meat
  • Brain matter or spinal cord is put into the meat
  • Meat sold in a store or market
  • The consumer eats the meat
  • The prion then attacks the human central nervous system
  • The human dies about 13 months after onset of symptoms
  • The coroner diagnosis the dead with Mad Cow Disease

Possible complications

  • Depression
  • Loss of coordination
  • Dementia
  • Neurological problems
  • Death

Target audience

  • All ages
  • Whoever eats meat
  • Meat eaters in other countries