Fourteen cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) were diagnosed on the basis of clinical examination in a closed herd of British Friesian cows during a 9-month period from October 1987 until June 1988. The diagnosis was confirmed on histopathological examination of brain tissue from five of the six samples submitted. The main presenting clinical signs were of altered behaviour: apprehension, anxiety and hyperaesthesia. One cow was euthanized after a short period of recumbency; the remaining 13 cows were slaughtered on humane or economic grounds. No protein of animal origin had been fed to either heifers or cows in this herd during the past 5 years and there had been no direct contact with sheep. The epidemiology of BSE in this report suggests that, if the postulate of Morgan (1988) is correct, infection is ingested within the first 6 months of life and there then follows a 4-5-year period before clinical signs appear.
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