Authorities from the European Union have confirmed an isolated case of mad cow disease in Ardennes in Northern France, while promising that it poses no health risks.

5-year old cow showed symptoms of BSE

Mad cow disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was first discovered in the 1990s and is caused by a mutated or rogue protein called a prion. The outbreak of the disease in the United Kingdom in the 2000s was caused by cows that were being recycled into cattle feed who were infected by the disease. It’s for this reason that  Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is the human equivalent is essentially limited to affecting the few remaining cannibalistic societies around the world.

The disease, which affects the central nervous system, is quite rare but just sounds scary as hell.

The BSE outbreak in Europe caused the banning of U.K beef twenty years ago in 1996 and also saw a number of EU countries put export bans on French beef in 2000 as well. The latter occurred after tainted beef made it into French supermarkets.

While the consumption of meat from cows infected with BSE can lead to it infecting humans, this is not the case with milk or other dairy products from infected cows. However, a number of consumers are unaware of this fact and mad cow disease had an effect on French cheese and milk sales. Farmers are rightfully concerned that this could happen again at a time when a recent collapse in milk prices is already threatening the survival of a number of smaller farms.

Mad cow disease – Cows get confused

The cow in question was likely exposed to BSE at a very young age as cows only begin showing symptoms like a lack of coordination and stumbling around like a drunk four to six years after contraction. There is no treatment not a cure and the cow’s demise usually comes quite quickly after showing signs of infection.

It’s believed that this is an isolated case with the agriculture ministry (France) saying, “The detection of this case has no impact for the consumer.”

“The detection of this isolated case shows the effectiveness of our monitoring system,” the agricultural ministry said.

The ministry said it is the third isolated case of mad-cow disease in Europe since 2015.