Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), sometimes called "Mad Cow Disease" is a slowly progressing, degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system of cattle. The disease belongs to a group of related diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs).
BSE was first recognized in Great Britain (England. Wales, Scotland) in 1986. Since then the disease has been confirmed in native cattle in other European countries, and in animals imported from Great Britain to several other countries, including Canada with case in 1993. There have been no cases of BSE found in any U.S.A. cattle.
The nature of the BSE agent is still a matter of debate. The agent in ruminant protein fed to cattle is highly stable, resisting ultraviolet radiation, ionizing radiation, common disinfectants, freezing, drying and heating at normal cooking temperatures, even those used for pasteurization and sterilization.