Bovine encephalopathy

Oliver Sparrow ohgs at chatham.demon.co.uk
Tue Apr 19 05:09:52 EST 1994

In article <2ovkb3$brg at scratchy.reed.edu>
           lydgate at reed.edu "Chris Lydgate" writes:
>....the theory that the epidemic of BSE in the UK was caused by scrapie in
> sheep is still tentative.  Dr. Mark Robinson, a researcher at the Agricultural
> Research Service in Pullman, Washington, has been trying to transmit scrapie
> to cattle for several years, without success, even when he fed _raw_
> scrapie-infected sheep brains to cattle.
> It's true that you can't disprove something by looking for it and not finding
> it, but I just mean to say the scrapie->bse link is still just a hypothesis, 
> and perhaps a politically expedient one at that.

That is rather my point. I am aware of no repeatable procedure bu which BSE
can be induced in other cows: prehaps I am wrong. Lots of animals get
encephalopathies - not least as a consequence of getting old - and to equate
sick cows and kudu with a proof of an infectious agent is tendencious.

I have no idea what causes BSE. There have, however, been over 3000 recorded 
cases since the use of animal protein in feeds has stopped; there were cases
in cows which were not fed concentrates (cross-bred dairy beef); and calves
are getting it. Perhaps it can be passed mum-to-offspring; or perhaps it is
inherited. To call it a "prion" is to call it a "thingie" unless one can
establish the same level of reproducibility that is supposed to be associated
with scrapie.

  Oliver Sparrow
  ohgs at chatham.demon.co.uk

More information about the Neur-sci mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net