A chronological look at mad cow disease



Bovine Spongiform Encephalophathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease, is first observed in the

United Kingdom


Great Britain

). The first related case of BSE occurred in February 1985. "Cow 133" died after suffering head tremors.

November 1986

The first confirmed case of BSE is identified in the

United Kingdom


July 1998

Government officials ban the inclusion of meat and bone from ruminant (grazing) animals into cattle feed. Ruminant animals are believed to carry the prions that cause BSE.

July 1989

The United States Department of Agriculture bans the importation of ruminant animals from countries with confirmed BSE cases.

May 1990

United Kingdom

scientist Professor Richard Lacey calls for the slaughter of all BSE infected herds in the

United Kingdom

. During the same period, the British agricultural minister declares that all beef products are completely safe to eat, even appearing on television in a commercial with his 4-year-old daughter eating a hamburger.

June 1990

Out of 10 million cattle in

Great Britain

, more than 14,000 are confirmed to have BSE.

December 1991

United States Department of Agriculture bans at-risk by products of ruminant origin from countries with BSE.


The United States Mad Cow Disease Surveillance Program expands to include examination of brain tissue from downed cows.

January 1993

The BSE epidemic reaches epic proportions in the

United Kingdom

. Mad cow disease at its peak during this period reached 1,000 new cases each week.

United Kingdom

officials brought that figure down to about 300 reported BSE cases by 1996.



than 155,000 cases of BSE are identified in the

United Kingdom

. The disease in the

United Kingdom

peaks between 1992-93 with a reported 100,000 confirmed cases.

May 21, 1995

Stephen Churchill, 19, is the first known human death from BSE. Three more

United Kingdom

residents die that year from the disease.

March 20, 1996

British government officials confirm the suspicion of many scientists, announcing a link between BSE and the Cruetzfeldt-Jacob disease, which is a human form of BSE.

Aug. 4, 1997

The United States Food and Drug Administration establishes regulations prohibiting the feeding of most mammalian proteins to ruminants.

February 2000

A mother carrying the Cruetzfeldt-Jakob disease gives birth to a daughter in the

United Kingdom

, who also tests positive for the disease.

July 2000

United States

officials declare an emergency situation after four sheep in


tested positive for BSE related symptoms. The cause of the outbreak was eventually traced back to feed purchased from



Nov. 23, 2000

The first case of BSE is confirmed in



Nov. 24, 2000

The first reported case of BSE is confirmed in


after the birth of two calves.


BSE invades


. The first reported case of mad cow disease in


occurred in

Red Deer



. The cow was imported from

Great Britain

in 1987.

May 20, 2003

Canadian officials confirm a single case of BSE in a cow in



Sept. 11, 2003

Four months after BSE was identified in Alberta, Canada, the United States allows for the shipment of beef products, lifting its original ban. The shipment of live cattle is still not allowed.

Oct. 29, 2003

A 21-month-old bull is killed in Japan after testing positive for BSE. It is the ninth cow killed in Japan since the illness was discovered in 2001.

Dec. 9, 2003

United States government officials test tissue from a Mabton Holstein dairy cow in Iowa after the downed animal is identified with potentially having BSE at a rendering plant. The tissue is tested for mad cow disease. The results of the tissue test sampling in Iowa prompts the samples to be sent to the United Kingdom for BSE confirmation.

Dec. 23, 2003

United States Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman confirms a suspected case of BSE, mad cow disease, near Mabton, Wa. Veneman says the suspected case won't be confirmed until results are obtained after testing of tissue samples in the United Kingdom. If confirmed, it would be the first case of mad cow disease in the United States.

Dec. 25, 2003

A British laboratory confirms that the Mabton Holstein suspected of contracting BSE is infected with the deadly disease.


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