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Mad cow disease: What you need to know
April 25th, 2012
10:02 AM ET

Mad cow disease: What you need to know

After Tuesday's announcement confirming a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), sometimes referred to as "mad cow disease," in a dairy cow in California, you may want a refresher course in mad cow basics.

It's important to keep in mind that U.S. health officials said the public risk posed by BSE is extremely low, and that residents don't need to take any specific precautions.

Here are the facts:

- BSE is a transmissible, degenerative and fatal disease affecting the central nervous system of adult cattle. The disease is of concern to public health officials because it can cause variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or vCJD, a fatal brain disorder in humans.
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