Diagnosis and Prevention of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy and Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

David N. Irani, Richard T. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


An outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) arose in the United Kingdom as a result of prions entering and being recycled through the ruminant food chain. Humans have since developed a variant form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), also mostly in the United Kingdom, that occurs in younger individuals and causes prominent psychiatric and/or behavioral manifestations early in disease. Laboratory studies now provide strong evidence that the causative agent of BSE in cattle and vCJD in humans share a common origin. Because of a lack of information regarding the incubation period of vCJD and the number of people who may have been exposed, the future scope of this disease remains unknown. Control of the current and any future outbreaks in cattle requires strict measures to prevent contamination of the animal food chain with prions of any species. Prevention of human exposure mandates the avoidance of neural tissue in all human foods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-319
Number of pages15
JournalAnnual review of medicine
StatePublished - Nov 19 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Mad cow disease
  • New-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
  • Prion diseases
  • Prions
  • Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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