bovine spongiform encephalopathy
a disease of cattle first reported in 1986 in Great Britain; characterized clinically by apprehensive behavior, hyperesthesia, and ataxia, and histologically by spongiform changes in the gray matter of the brain stem; caused by a prion, like spongiform encephalopathies of other animals (scrapie) and human beings (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease [vCJD]).
Synonym(s): mad cow disease
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