Although the agent that causes BSE (mad cow disease) and other transmissible encephalopathies is not completely understood, it is thought to be a prion, which is a protein or protein fragment of abnormal morphology and function. Bovine products including sera such as FBS should be sourced from countries known to be BSE-free.
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly referred to as "Mad Cow Disease," has been subject to heightened awareness by the global scientific community since about 1990. The nature of the agent that causes BSE is not fully understood, but the most common theory is that it is a transmissible protein of abnormal morphology called a "prion." Other forms of the disease are called Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs) and include scrapie in sheep, Chronic Wasting Disease in deer and elk, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) in humans. BSE is believed to have arisen when cattle in the UK were fed scrapie-infected sheep products including meat and bone meal.
BSE is a fatal disease that causes the gradual degeneration of the tissues and functions of the central nervous system of cattle. Infected animals demonstrate clinical signs that include loss of coordination, reduced body weight and milk production, disorientation, and aggressive changes to temperament. Due to a protracted viral incubation period, it may take as long as eight years for these degenerative signs to manifest in infected animals. Although histopathological examination can confirm the presence of BSE in post-mortem brain and spinal tissue samples, clinical signs are the only indicators of the disease in live animals.
There are currently no approved laboratory tests available for screening live cattle for BSE infection. Therefore, the best available assurance that bovine-derived products do not contain BSE is to source them from minimal-risk countries with no known indigenous cases of BSE. Our FBS is sourced from minimal-risk geographies. Minimal-risk countries have:
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