Rob Wilson, Ph.D.
Final Abstract for URS Program
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is a neurological disorder commonly found in cows. The hypothesis for the causation of BSE surrounds a protein known as the prion protein. For the most part, prion proteins are not harmful to cattle. Yet, when it mutates, the protein begins attacking the central nervous system. The protein causes the infected cattle to lose coordination and become violent. This is where it gets its nickname, mad cow disease. The research in this project explores the economic impact of mad cow disease. The reactions from consumers surrounding BSE started the downfall of the economy. It also almost ruined the entire beef industry, twice. Procedures used to prevent the spread consisted of the destruction of infected cows and halting of imports. The BSE scare also created a long-term reduction in purchasing beef products. With that, it was detrimental to chains who frequently used and bought beef. BSE rattled most of the world to its core. The battle with BSE caused the loss of hundreds of lives and thousands of dollars in revenue.