In the 1990s, BSE scared many people, now there is a new case in the Netherlands. The authorities react quickly. Later it turns out that it is the variant that is less dangerous for humans. The so-called mad cow disease is still incurable in humans.

A case of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the so-called mad cow disease BSE, has been found in a dead cow in the Netherlands. The infected animal “did not enter the food chain and posed no risk to food safety,” said Agriculture Minister Piet Adema. The affected farm in the province of Zuid-Holland was sealed off. The Ministry later announced that it was the atypical BSE variant, which is less dangerous for humans.

Dutch experts had investigated whether the case of the eight-year-old cow was a classic disease or the atypical variant that sporadically occurs in older cows. The classic form is spread when farmers feed cattle with the meat and bone meal from dead and infected animals. The classic form is considered more dangerous for humans.

Before identifying the variant, Adema had stated that all offspring, animals that grew up with the cow or those that received the same feed, “will be tracked down, tested for BSE and destroyed”. According to the ministry, there were 13 animals. It was the first case of mad cow disease in the atypical variant in the Netherlands since 2011.

Mad cow disease first appeared in the UK in the 1980s and has spread to many countries in Europe and the world. The disease triggered a massive crisis in the beef industry. In the Netherlands there have been a total of 88 cases of the classic variant and four atypical cases since 1997.

The human form of mad cow disease is incurable. It leads to progressive deterioration of the brain and triggers sudden memory loss, standing and movement disorders, and behavioral changes. Patients usually die within a year. However, the disease is very rare, and a majority of the population is probably resistant to transmission by eating BSE-contaminated food.