How Now Mad Cow

Whatever happened to the Mad Cow Disease holocaust. Are a lot of people wiping egg off their faces and humbly apologizing, or are all of us euro-carnivores still looking at seriously compromised life-expectancy ?

As I understand it, all contaminated cattle were destroyed. Others were quarrentined (sp?) until safe.

The link below goes to the The UK Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance Unit with tons of additional links. Variant CJD is believed to be the human strand of Mad Cow Disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy). You can read up on it and judge for yourself if any apology is in order.

http://www.cjd.ed.ac.uk/

I added some extra links as well.

http://www.doh.gov.uk/cjd/whatiscjd.htm

http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/bse/index.html

There is a ton of info to read but I don’t believe any apology is in order for trying to prevent or at least minimalize the spread of a truly horrific disease to cattle, sheep and of course humans.

The link below goes to the The UK Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance Unit with tons of additional links. Variant CJD is believed to be the human strand of Mad Cow Disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy). You can read up on it and judge for yourself if any apology is in order.

http://www.cjd.ed.ac.uk/

I added some extra links as well.

http://www.doh.gov.uk/cjd/whatiscjd.htm

http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/bse/index.html

There is a ton of info to read but I don’t believe any apology is in order for trying to prevent or at least minimalize the spread of a truly horrific disease to cattle, sheep and of course humans.

Well, I must have misphrased my question here. I never doubted the existence of KJ disease, be it the bovine form that has been around for many years, or the presumably more recent human version.
My question actually relates to the number of human deaths. Starting in 1996 we lucky Europeans were treated to a huge political debacle involving the slaughter of millions of cattle, major political tensions (contributing heavily to the UK vs continent divide) and especially a couple of years of highly alarming media coverage.

Although this terrifying disease has now claimed several hundred lives, we were warned that millions would die, that we were all already infected - we had been eating the infected meat for years. The British in particular would be dropping like flies by now regardless of the containment measures (we were already infected…).

The cost of containment to the UK alone is estimated at 4 billion pounds to 2001. No other disease gets this kind of attention for such a relatively small number of victims.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/background_briefings/bse/110131.stm

http://www.businessweek.com/2001/01_06/b3718202.htm
I guess my question is - is this purely policially motivated hysteria, or is this disease really a ticking time-bomb with hundreds of thousands of us already infected ?

Have I missed any new developments ?

What’s that? The media blowing things out of proportion? Say it ain’t so!

Seriously, though, it could have been bad, but it appears that the control measures that have been taken are working quite well.

Past predictions for the total number of deaths did vary wildly. In the past few years, however, the models have started to give relatively small numbers, on the order of a few hundred at most. More medically adept Dopers can no doubt point to a good recent review, but in the interim see, for example, here, here or here. My understanding is that, after a decade, the epidemic has now run through enough of the 20-odd year incubation periods that would have led to the really large numbers that the consequences of those scenarios would have been obvious by now. In that sense, we simply know more about the course of the epidemic by having been able to watch it unfold for longer.
These models obviously still involve assumptions. But even the more cautious assessments are that we may be past the worst. From the most recent quarterly report of the Surveillance Unit:

Quatratic models?

BSE is a slow-developing disease, and in the US, only dairy cattle and prize breeders are allowed to live long enough to be diagnosed. The disease is passed by eating the central nerve tissue (brain or spinal cord) of an infected animal. Use of animal material in livestock feed is now forbidden, so the current herds are safe, as far as we know.

As for the humans, let’s review. Regular meat, even from an infected animal, is safe. Ground meat sometimes contains “mechanically deboned meat,” which occasionally could contain spinal cord tissue. That’s where the hazard was, aside from folks who intentionally ate brain. Now, take all that, and figure in the fact that only a very small number of cattle were actually sick. The chances of any individual beef eater getting CJD are pretty small. For those who will get it, there’s nothing they can do.

I don’t know how long CJD takes to develop, but eventually we’ll know everyone is safe.

Well I’m not in the US, and the bad news over here is that hundreds of thousands of cattle were infected.

Still, what I seem to be hearing is that the epidemic’s not going to happen, and the incubation thing was somewhat overstated - so I’m going out for a burger (and go back to worrying about cholesterol)…

I’m not too clear on the details in Yurp. I know that “hundreds of thousands of cattle” were slaughtered, but how many were infected? The only test is dissection of the brain after the animal is dead.

Anyway, now that precautions are taken to avoid feeding animal material to livestock, I don’t see any hazard to eating beef meat.

I read this as the bog-standard fit to a possible peak. A linear model can’t have a peak, so they’re asking the next more general question. Assuming that the curve is quadratic, what’s the best fit to date? This doesn’t rule out that the peak hasn’t yet occured, so it isn’t assuming that we’re past the worst. And in some limit, such a curve will be a decent approximation if there is a peak.

All standard enough.

I’m not sure, but I thought that in order to catch vCJD from eating “mad cow” beef, you had to be unlucky enough to eat a hamburger that A) came from a BSE-infected cow and B) be extra-unlucky enough that the cow the meat came from had an especially messy slaughter which contaminated the meat with bits of BSE-infected neural tissue.

But maybe not. As far as I know, there’s currently not really any way to detect BSE (in cows) or vCJD (in humans) until symptoms show up, the infected animal/person dies, and a brain autopsy is done. And, also as far as I know, it can take years or decades for symptoms of vCJD to show up after eating BSE-infected beef. I may be wrong with any of that, but if not, then there could be plenty of infected people who don’t know it yet.

If anybody has posted better info than this in the time I’ve had this sitting waiting to post (12 hours or so – man, the boards.straightdope.com server can be irritating) I’ll be interested to read it.

Except for the spelling. That’s the only thing I wanted to remark on.