Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mad Cow Disease in 1990

In the first article ever published in The New York Times about Mad Cow Disease, journalist Sheila Rule describes the symptoms of the infection and explains that a fear was arising that the disease "might spread to humans." Furthermore, Members of Parliament "announced a wide-ranging investigation into the ailment."

It is interesting to look back and see the claims made by the British Government at this time. Not only did they insist that "beef is safe to eat," but they campaigned "to show that there is no reason to believe that it is a danger to humans" as well.

According to the article, public fears "were fueled by the death of a pet cat suffering from symptoms of the virus." When people discovered that the disease was not only prevalent in cows, they began to worry about their own abilities to contract the disease.

Despite the public fear, "Government's chief medical officer, Sir Donald Acheson, said in a statement that he had checked with leading scientific and medical experts and that British beef was safe." Considering the outbreaks in humans over the following few years, it appears as though Sir Acheson was not very well-informed!

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