What Are Some Symptoms of Mad Cow Disease?


Quick Answer

Symptoms of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human-affecting form of mad cow disease, include loss of muscle control, intensifying memory problems and muscle spasms, according to eMedicineHealth. Individuals should consult a doctor immediately if they experience these symptoms.

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What Are Some Symptoms of Mad Cow Disease?
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Full Answer

Human symptoms of mad cow disease are similar to those that afflict cattle, which include uncoordinated movements, difficulty walking and behavioral changes, as stated by eMedicineHealth. Researchers in the United Kingdom studying the first 100 patients infected with vCJD discovered psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety, depression and withdrawal in the early stages. Memory problems and an unsteady gait developed within four months of onset. Characteristic brain abnormalities of vCJD are only detectable by MRI in the later stages of the disease, which is always fatal, as stated by WebMD. Victims generally pass away within 13 months of infection.

Adult cattle infected with mad cow disease may only present symptoms two to eight years from the time of infection, according to eMedicineHealth. The animal's milk production may decrease, and it may lose weight despite having an appetite. The animal continues to deteriorate until it dies or is put down, and the disease generally takes its course from two weeks to six months after symptoms begin. Researchers believe that the disease passes from cattle to humans when humans consume the meat of infected animals.

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