BSE: it’s not over yet

Concern that sheep may catch BSE and pass it on to humans

source: Debora MacKenzie
New Scientist January 12 2002 p5

There have been calls from epidemiologists for a ban on the consumption of sheep offal, and of sheep meat from animals aged more than 6-months-old, due to fears that sheep could catch BSE and pass it on to humans. There is no definite proof that sheep can carry BSE, however, so the government is not likely to act, especially at a time when the meat industry already faces problems.

Sheep present a greater potential risk to humans in that sheep can eat feed that has been infected with BSE, and if they catch the disease, they carry it in more parts of the body consumed by humans, than cattle do. Sheep may also pass the disease on to each other. Tests have been carried out on 180 sheep showing scrapie symptoms, and none had BSE. The risk to humans if some sheep do have the disease will depend on whether it spreads between flocks. It is only seen as a serious problem that is likely to grow, if it spreads from one flock to another, but serious risks to humans could be avoided if precautions are taken.