Risk of Oral Infection With Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Agent in Primates

Lancet. 2005 Feb 26-Mar 4;365(9461):781-3. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(05)17985-9.


The uncertain extent of human exposure to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)--which can lead to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD)--is compounded by incomplete knowledge about the efficiency of oral infection and the magnitude of any bovine-to-human biological barrier to transmission. We therefore investigated oral transmission of BSE to non-human primates. We gave two macaques a 5 g oral dose of brain homogenate from a BSE-infected cow. One macaque developed vCJD-like neurological disease 60 months after exposure, whereas the other remained free of disease at 76 months. On the basis of these findings and data from other studies, we made a preliminary estimate of the food exposure risk for man, which provides additional assurance that existing public health measures can prevent transmission of BSE to man.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Cattle
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Syndrome / transmission
  • Eating
  • Encephalopathy, Bovine Spongiform / pathology
  • Encephalopathy, Bovine Spongiform / transmission*
  • Food Contamination*
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • PrPSc Proteins / analysis
  • Primate Diseases / transmission*


  • PrPSc Proteins