EFSA confirms low incidence of TSEs in the EU

December 6, 2017

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published its second summary report on the monitoring of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) in the European Union (EU). TSEs are a group of diseases that affect the brain and nervous system of humans and animals. These include bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), scrapie, and chronic wasting disease (CWD). With the exception of classical BSE, there is no scientific evidence that TSEs can be transmitted to humans.

This report provides results on data collected by all EU member states, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland for 2016. The EFSA found five cases of BSE in cattle (out of 1,352,585 animals tested) in the European Union—none of which entered the food chain. France reported one classical and three atypical cases and Spain reported one atypical case of BSE. It was the first time since the BSE epidemic started and BSE cases have been reported that the United Kingdom did not report any cases of the disease.

The report states that there were 685 cases of scrapie in sheep (out of 286,351 tested) and 634 in goats (out of 110,832 tested). There were no cases of CWD in any of the 2,712 cervids tested (e.g., reindeer, elk, and moose) in the EU member states; however, five cases of CWD were reported in Norway—three in wild reindeer and two in moose. It was the first time that this disease has been reported in Europe.

EFSA report