Q. What is BSE?
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as 'mad-cow disease', is a disease that affects adult cattle. It attacks the brain and central nervous system of the animal and eventually causes death.
It can take four to six years for cattle infected with BSE to show signs of it as it has a long incubation period.
Cattle can become disoriented, show a lack of coordination, suffer head tremors and sometimes show aggressive behaviour towards other animals or humans.
Q. Where does BSE come from?
BSE was confirmed in Ireland for the first time in 1989, when there were 15 cases identified. However, the disease is officially recognised in the UK since 1986.
Most experts agree that BSE was most likely spread by cattle eating feed that contained contaminated meat and bone meal (MBM). Meat and bone meal was banned in cattle feed in Ireland in 1990.
Experiments have shown that cattle can contract BSE if they are fed infected brain tissue. A ban was introduced throughout the EU on feeding MBM to all farm animals in 2001.
Q. How is BSE being controlled in Ireland ?
Strict BSE controls are in place in Ireland since 1996 and all Specified Risk Material is removed.