The BSE epidemic cost us billions, and devastated the British farming industry. Now, that plague is at an end. Overall, as many as three million animals were infected; in the peak year, 1992, the UK saw 37,280 diagnoses. Yet there are good reasons why any celebrations have been put on hold. All told, around half a million infected animals entered the food chain. Although it remains unclear how many people ate the most infectious parts, it is clear that the majority of the British population was exposed. So far, the human equivalent of BSE, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), has claimed 170 lives, mainly through consumption of BSE-infected beef. And because of the extraordinary incubation time of the disease, it is possible that many more cases may be waiting in the wings.
Read more: The end of BSE