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BSE & vCJD: What Pharmacists Need to Know About Mad Cow Disease

KEY POINT

Patients are asking pharmacists and other health care professionals for information about mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), and its relationship to the new variant form of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (vCJD). Unlike the classic form of sporadic CJD, the majority of vCJD cases have been acquired from eating beef products from cattle infected with BSE. Overall, the chance of developing vCJD is infinitesimally small, but it cannot be ignored in countries where BSE has occurred—a group that now includes the United States.

SOURCES

CDC. Update 2002: bovine spongiform encephalopathy and variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease. 

CDC. Questions and answers regarding bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD). 

CDC. Questions and answers regarding Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease infection-control practices. 

CDC. Fact sheet: new variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease. 

Prusiner SB, Bosque P. Prion diseases. In: Harrison’s Online. 

Britton L. Prion diseases. Program and abstracts from the 71st Annual Meeting of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science; July 22–26, 2003; Philadelphia, Pa.

Smith PG. The epidemics of bovine spongiform encephalopathy and variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease: current status and future prospects. Bull World Health Organ. 2003;81:123–30. 

Questions and answers on FDA guidance entitled "Revised preventive measures to reduce the possible risk of transmission of Creutzfeldt-Jakob (CJD) disease and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) by blood and blood products.”