hlr at aber.ac.uk hlr at aber.ac.uk
Fri Mar 29 03:36:49 EST 1996

In article <4jfgke$mii at news.ccit.arizona.edu> ruskinr at aruba.ccit.arizona.edu (Robert H Ruskin) writes:
>Besides being a microbiologist, I am also an environmental scientist. I 
>currently subscribe to sci.environment and there was a post there that 
>was of some interest to me, the microbiologist on BSE. A person wrote that 
>BSE may not in fact be caused by prions, but rather from organo-phosphate 
>pesticides that the British seem to literally dump over their cattle to 
>ward off some fly.

Organophosphorous insecticides are used to control warble fly. Very few people 
in the UK still claim that this has anything to do with BSE (those that do are 
generally farmers, not scientists). These chemicals do act on the nervous 
system, and an overdose can produce symptoms similar to BSE. However, their 
use is widespread - certainly not only in the UK. In the UK they are used 
mainly in the summer but as far as I know there has been no seasonal variation 
reported for BSE. Other animals can be infected using material from a BSE 
infected cow - this points to an infective agent, not a chemical.

>The post went on to say that once a cow has been diagnosed with Mad Cow 
>Disease it becomes the property of the government so there is in fact 
>very little known about what the cows *actually* die from, since 
>researchers have very little access to the cows for study.

I would think that most BSE cows die from being killed! When BSE is diagnosed
they are slaughtered and brain sections are used to confirm the diagnosis. The 
carcass should then be destroyed by incineration.


|          Dr Hazel Marie Davey   hlr at aber.ac.uk         |
|Sefydliad y Gwyddorau Biolegol*Inst. Biological Sciences|
|Prifysgol Cymru               *      University of Wales|
|        ABERYSTWYTH, Dyfed, CYMRU / WALES SY23 3DA      |
|            http://pcfcfh.dbs.aber.ac.uk/index.htm      |

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