The affected organisms included some farmworkers and most of the cows in the farm. The farmworkers who had been affected depicted several symptoms. These individuals portrayed some difficulties in speaking, some difficulties in walking, and they experienced fatigue, hallucinations, confusion, and muscle stiffness. Then again, some symptoms were apparent on the cows. Some of these symptoms included weight loss, shaking, nervous behavior, and decreased milk production. After carrying out some laboratory test using samples from the humans and the cows, prions were identified to be present in the organisms.
The presence of prions in cows was identified using some rapid tests. For instance the Bio-Rad TeSeE Elisa rapid test was used for BSE screening. This is an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test that is specific and high sensitive in detecting the presence of BSE prions in cows. The test is sensitive in that it is capable of truly detecting infected subjects and it yields very few false results. Several tests were also carried out on the farmworkers to ascertain if they were infected with prions. Among the tests that were carried out was CSF test that looks for the presence of 14-3-3 protein that is a marker for CDJ. A DNA test was also executed. This test aimed at searching for the existence of mutation in prion protein gene and to determine polymorphism in various Condons, including Condon 29. Other tests included the use of electroencephalogram patterns and neuro-imaging technologies, e.g. magnetic resonance imaging and computer tomography (Rabenau, H. (2004).
The exact cause of BSE that a few cows were diagnosed with is yet to be known, but the disease is associated with accumulation of misfolded or abnormal proteins referred to as BSE prions in the brain. Normal prion proteins can also change to form abnormal prion proteins that are lethal. BSE can be transmitted from animals to human beings as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The disease is transmitted when humans consume infected meat from animals. BSE can also be transmitted among human beings through cannibalism or transplantation of infected organs or tissues from one person to the other. As a result, the donation of blood and other bloods products from people who live in some parts of the world where BSE outbreaks have been experienced is not accepted. Some facts have also shown that CJD can be transmitted through blood transfusion.
Prions may have occurred naturally in one of the animals that later transmitted these infectious prion proteins indirectly to other organisms. Infectious prion protein can be detected in plants that are exposed to feaces and urine from infected animals e.g. deer. It is possible that the cow that was initially infected transmitted prions to grass and other plants that other cows later fed on. Research has proved that plants uptake prions from contaminated soil, which they transport to other parts of the plant, which may act as carriers of infectivity (Zou & Gambetti, 2013). These cows also became infected. The farm workers slaughtered and consumed meat from an infected cow thereby were infected. In addition, the farmers may have consumed milk from an infected cow and were infected by the infectious prion proteins.
There is no cure for prion diseases, but there are available medications that can assist to slow their progress. Infected farm workers should seek medical services so that they can be kept as comfortable and safe as possible. The disease can be prevented through proper sterilizing of medical equipment o prevent the spread of the disease (Kitamoto, 2005). Infected persons should not donate blood or other tissues or organs. The farm owner should apply newer regulations that govern the feeding and handling of cows to prevent the spread of prion diseases. Affected farm workers need to take care of themselves and they need to visit care facilities from time to time. Beef from infected cows should not be consumed to avoid the transmission of the prions.
Kitamoto, T. (2005). Prions: Food and Drug Safety. Tokyo: Springer-Verlag Tokyo.
Rabenau, H. (2004). Prions: A challenge for science, medicine and the public health system : 19 tables. Basel [u.a.: Karger.
Zou, W.-Q. & Gambetti, P. (2013). Prions and diseases: Volume 2. New York: Springer.