Concern grows over transmission of 'mad cow' disease: Can BSE be passed from one generation to another? The case of a cow called Brainstorm has rekindled the debate

A MINISTRY of Agriculture restriction order on a third cow at a West Country farm has raised concern over whether 'mad cow' disease can be passed from one generation to the next.

The two-and-a-half-year-old animal, called Brainstorm, is the daughter of a pedigree Jersey cow, Birthday, which was confirmed in a post-mortem examination as having contracted BSE. The case therefore raises the possibility that the disease could have been passed by 'maternal transmission' - either at birth or genetically.

Contaminated feed is thought to be the cause of infection in the majority of BSE cases, but government scientists have not been able to rule out maternal transmission as one route of infection. This could alter the Government's predictions over the numbers of infected animals, and the timing of any fall-off in the number of confirmed cases.

In two animals, officials have been unable to identify a link with feed. Both were born after the ban in July 1988 on using ruminant protein in feed for other ruminants.

This latest case will be particularly embarrassing for the ministry because its officials have quarrelled once before with the farmer who owns Brainstorm, Mark Purdey, over his controversial theories on BSE. He believes pesticides against warble fly infestation can weaken the immune response of cattle, making them susceptible to BSE.

Mr Purdey, of Elworthy, Somerset, was unhappy about the ministry's reaction to his attempts to treat another of his cows, Damson, which contracted BSE, with a radical therapy he devised involving oxime - a chemical used to counter the effects of nerve gas.

Brainstorm gave birth to her own calf two weeks ago. The stress of calving, Mr Purdey said, is thought to prompt symptoms of BSE to appear in infected animals. Mr Purdey said yesterday: 'She looks as if she's stoned. She has a spaced out expression . . . that classic glazed BSE look. She often stands with her nose pressed up against the wall. She is reluctant to come into the milking parlour, and will kick suddenly and violently when the milking clusters are on. She sniffs the ground, has tremors under her skin and licks her lips and back more than usual. She has a weird pulse in the carotid artery, which her mother also had.'

Damson and Birthday were in a group of eight cattle Mr Purdey bought from a farm that uses chemical treatments. He farms by strict organic methods and says that Brainstorm, born after the 1988 feed ban, has only eaten feed that he believes contained no animal protein.

A spokeswoman said the agriculture ministry's usual practice was to slaughter suspected BSE cases immediately if they were born before the feed ban. Animals born after the ban are monitored for three weeks before further action. 'MAFF's concern is with trying to confirm whether or not this is BSE through observing clinical symptoms.'

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in the leaked trailer for Zoolander 2
film
Sport
footballArsenal take the Community Shield thanks to a sensational strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arts and Entertainment
Gemma Chan as synth Anita in Humans
film
News
Keeping it friendly: Tom Cruise on ‘The Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ensemble cast: Jamie McCartney with ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’
artBritish artist Jamie McCartney explains a work that is designed to put women's minds at rest
News
Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen