Mad cow disease found on Dutch farm for first time in 12 years

Mad cow disease found on Dutch farm for first time in 12 years
Two cows look wonderingly into the camera, Thursday, 21 December 2000. Credit: Belga / Virginie Lefour

For the first time in 12 years, the mad cow disease was found in a dead cow on a farm in the Netherlands, announced the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture on Wednesday.

The Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) closed down the farm but does not want to say where it is located. Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reports that it concerns a livestock farmer in the South Holland province.

It is not yet known which variant of the disease it concerns.

People who eat contaminated meat can get Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which causes brain cells to die at a rapid rate. The so-called "atypical variant" was last found in 2011, and can arise spontaneously due to the age of cows.

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The "classic" variant is caused by contaminated feed, which leads to the disease BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy), also known as mad cow disease. Infected cows isolate themselves from the herd and start showing aggressive behaviour over time.

Since 1997, 88 cases have been found in the Netherlands. Three people died in the Netherlands from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Especially people around 30 years old are affected by the disease. Once infected, there is little you can do about it; patients experience severe pain due to damage to the nervous system.

The NVWA is now conducting source and contact investigations as there is "a chance" that other cows have also eaten the same feed. Wageningen BioVeterinary Research (WBVR) is investigating which variant is involved.

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