Is it safe to eat beef and chicken with BSE and bird flu in Ireland?
Can I get 'mad cow disease' or bird flu, after the incidences of BSE and bird flu this week?
BSE, or Bovine spongiform encephalopathy to give it its full title, is a disease of cattle, commonly known as 'mad cow disease' that causes a spongy degeneration of the brain and spinal cord in cattle. It became known as 'mad cow disease' due to the behavioural changes it caused in the affected animals.
When BSE was came onto our radars in the 1980s, beef contaminated with it was linked to the human condition - variant CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease), which is a rare and fatal condition.
There are two types of BSE and 'classical' BSE was first discovered in the 1980s and was linked to the feeding of meat-and-bone meal that was not properly treated to cattle. Since this practise was banned in 1990, the level of incidences of BSE has fallen dramatically in the UK and Ireland.
However, this week's case of BSE in Ireland is of the 'Atypical' variety - is different. Atypical BSE is not caused by feeding contaminated feed to cattle, it is understood to occur spontaneously in nature.
The cow that tested positive this week, tested positive for Atypical BSE and it poses no threat to humans or other animals.
The Department of Agriculture carries out routine tests on animals that die on farms and it was through one of these that the findings were made. It's due to such protocols that the animal came no where near entering the human food chain.
Equally, this week's case of bird flu poses no serious threat to humans. Bird flu is a highly contagious viral disease affecting the respiratory, digestive and/or nervous system of several species of domestic poultry, as well as pet birds and wild birds.