Subject area BSE
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) is a bovine disease which affects the central nervous system and always ends fatally. The German translation (sponge-like brain disease in cattle) illustrates the effects on the brain of the infected animals.
Because of its transmissibility on the one hand and the highly specific changes in the brain on the other, BSE is ranked amongst the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE). They include diseases in humans like for instance Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) and the Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker's syndrome (GSS).
According to the so-called prion hypothesis, BSE is caused by the infectious, wrongly folded form of an endogenous protein, the prion protein.
Even if the definitive evidence is still missing, scientists assume today that BSE is transmissible to man and that it triggers a new variant of the lethal Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).
BfR (until 2002-10-31 BgVV) addresses the subject of BSE in conjunction with consumer health protection and examines how the transmission of the disease from animals to humans through food can be prevented. It has made a number of recommendations.
For further information see the German version of this page ("Themenkomplex BSE").