Jill-Patrice Cassuto

From Mad Cow Disease to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Publication date : April 1, 1999

On March 20th, 1996, Stephen Dorrel, Britain’s Minister of Health, delivered a speech to the House of Commons. At first, his listeners showed little interest, but they were soon shocked by the minister’s staggering revelation. BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), popularly known as "mad cow" disease was transmissible to human beings. Until then, BSE had roused only minor interest. Suddenly, all consumers of beef and dairy products felt threatened. The British government tried to play down the health threat - but ultimately the European Community prohibited Britain from exporting beef and beef products and much of Britain’s cattle was destroyed. Jill-Patrice Cassuto examines the precursors of BSE and reviews some of the early research into the disease. He also studies the human form of BSE, or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal neurodegenerative disorder, and addresses the highly controversial question of ways the disease may be transmitted. This book is not only a scientific overview of current knowledge about BSE. It is also a thorough inquiry into the BSE scare and an examination of the issue of responsibility and of how health issues and risks are dealt with within the European Community.

Jill-Patrice Cassuto teaches medicine and heads a clinical hematology service in a university hospital.