Government scientists found the prion gene mutation in the cow that tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in 2006. The research indicates that the mutation is the same as one that occurs in humans who develop Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), which suggets that BSE might occur spontaneously in cattle just as CJD occurs in humans.
Although the mutation is rare in cattle, researchers believe it’s likely that it can be inherited. The findings were published in PLoS Pathogens.
U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists believe a rare genetic mutation may be the cause of some instances of mad cow disease in cattle.