Be mindful of 'mad cow' on European trip

Be mindful of 'mad cow' on European trip

July 5, 2001 The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

Q: A caller asked if, while traveling in Europe and other areas abroad this summer, it will be safe to eat meat following outbreaks of mad cow disease (BSE) and foot-and-mouth disease.

A:You've seen the horrifying pictures on television of farmers slaughtering and burning their livestock infected with foot-and-mouth disease. But because the disease identified in cloven-hoofed animals such as sheep, goats and pigs poses little health threat to humans, official cautions about consumption where the disease has been identified are limited to thoroughly cooking these foods to kill the virus. Your travel plans may be altered, though, in places where you may set foot. Many hiking paths, parks and zoos are off limits in Britain, for example, to avoid the spread of the disease to livestock. For updates, see travel sites:

Mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE) is fatal in humans, although transmission is rare. It is found in the brains, spinal cords and some other parts of infected cattle and, theoretically, in sheep and goats that have eaten contaminated feed. In humans, BSE is believed to lead to nvCJD (new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease), with a variety of symptoms occurring many years later.

The National Centers for Infectious Diseases, through the Centers for Disease Control at a site called Traveler's Health, advises either avoiding beef and beef products in countries where BSE has been found or avoiding products such as burgers and sausages and opting for cuts such as solid pieces of muscle meat that might have a reduced opportunity for contamination. Milk and milk products from cows are not believed to pose any risk. For updates, see

The CDC does not report on where BSE is found, but offers links to sites that do. See updates at

For help in determining risks, search "BSE-risk assessment" at

And for more information on particular diseases, see

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