Keywords: bovine spongiform encephalopathy, BSE, risk management, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, vCJD, Germany, variant CJD, mad cow disease, zoonotic diseases, decision making, food safety
Overview of bovine spongiform encephalopathy and related events in Germany
Despite the emergence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) throughout Europe, Germany considered itself free of the disease. However, on November 26, 2000, the first domestic case of BSE appeared in the country, leading to public concerns about food safety. The occurrence of BSE within the country's borders had dramatic economic and social effects. The response of the German public and politicians far surpassed that in the UK, which was affected by the disease to a much greater extent. Germany's response to BSE was rapid, with new risk management policies, including testing a high percentage of cattle, implemented within months. To date, Germany has not had a case of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). The strong public reaction to the identification of BSE in Germany demonstrates the importance of taking public perceptions of and concerns about zoonotic diseases into account in risk management decision-making.