Mad Cow Reported in Poland

WARSAW - The first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered in Poland this week. A nine-year-old cow was diagnosed in a slaughterhouse.

BSE is thought to cause the human variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), which causes proteins to self-destruct and makes millions of sponge-like holes in the brain. Death is certain generally one year after symptoms of the disease surface.

Poland, which reportedly has been considered a low-risk country for BSE, will join the European Union in two years. Yet the organization's commission wrote that Poland officials will need to enforce existing precautions to prevent tainted beef from potentially leaving the country. Currently, Polish officials check all cattle 30-months-old and older.

More than 100 people in Europe, predominantly from the United Kingdom, have died of vCJD in the past five years.

The infected cow, discovered six miles from the Slovak border in Mochnaczka Wyzna, will be destroyed, along with three others. This is the first detected cow in more than 100,000 cattle that have been tested for the disease.

Information from