Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Mad cow disease has been diagnosed in a cow in Scotland, the first case in Britain in three years.
The Scottish government said no infected meat has entered the food chain, as a movement ban is in place to prevent the disease from spreading.
It is the first case of mad cow in Scotland in nine years.
Scottish Chief Veterinary Officer Sheila Voas said the government is working closely with the environmental protection department and Animal and Plant Health Agency to determine the cause of the infection.
"I would urge any farmer who has concerns to immediately seek veterinary advice," Voas said.
"I have activated the Scottish government's response plan to protect our valuable farming industry, including establishing a precautionary movement ban being placed on the farm," Scotland Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said. "While it is important to stress that this is standard procedure until we have a clear understanding of the diseases origin, this is further proof that our surveillance system for detecting this type of disease is working."
Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is a fatal brain ailment caused by prion, a protein particle that lacks DNA.
Eating infected cow products like beef can cause the disease in humans, called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. It can cause rapid, progressive dementia. About 230 people, mostly from the United Kingdom and other countries in Europe, have been identified with the variant since 1996. However, it's rare in the United States, where only 4 cases have been reported in 20 years.
New public health control measures were implemented after the 1996 outbreak, including a food ban for animal tissues where the BSE prion proteins are concentrated. Cows are also fed a vegan diet to avoid infection, but experts say sometimes atypical BSE can occur sporadically.