In Graham Swift's novel, Wish You Were Here, the Luxton family twice loses their dairy herds to mass slaughter in the wake of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and Foot and Mouth Disease
(FMD) outbreaks. Two very distinct and separate diseases, BSE and FMD, when they surface in agriculture, can be utterly devastating to farmers and national economies.
BSE is more commonly known as "Mad Cow Disease" and is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that attacks cows specifically. It causes the brain and spinal cord of affected animals to suffer a spongy deterioration, so called because of the formation of tiny sponge-like holes in the brain tissue. The United Kingdom has been most extremely impacted by BSE where it was first identified by a laboratory in November 1986.
Some scientists believe that, in rare instances, humans can develop a degenerative neurological disorder with similar symptoms to BSE, known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), by eating food contaminated ...