Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) is a relatively new disease of cattle. It was first recognised and defined in the United Kingdom in November 1986. Over the next few years the epidemic grew considerably and affected all parts of the country but to different degrees. It reached its peak in 1992, when 36,680 cases were confirmed in Great Britain, and since then has shown a steady decline. Further information, including graphs, is available on the statistics pages.

BSE occurs in adult animals in both sexes, typically in animals aged five years and more. It is a neurological disease in which affected animals show signs that include; changes in mental state, abnormalities of posture and movement and of sensation. The clinical disease usually lasts for several weeks and it is invariably progressive and fatal.

Latest news

8 March 2011 - Movement restrictions on older cattle introduced

2 February 2011 - A revised version of Laboratory guidance on EU Co-financing for BSE testing (PDF 169 KB) is now available.

16 November 2010 - After 31 December 2010, the arrangements for testing fallen sheep and goats for TSEs (scrapie and BSE) will change. Details of the new arrangements are given on the Animal Health website.

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If you suspect signs of any notifiable disease, you must immediately notify your local Divisional Veterinary Manager who can advise you of the procedures for notification, disposal and compensation.

Page last modified: 8 March, 2011