A Spongiform Timeline, Mad Cow, Mad Cow!

A brief history of that devilish cow-spawned disease, gleaned from Harpers (the history gleaned from Harpers, that is—not the disease). Enjoy!

(note: dates refer to week, and not necessarily the exact day of events)


Aug 1: British Health Dept Bulletin states that 500,000 people could die from BSE by 2030. Happy day.

Nov 28: Spain and Germany both discover their first cases of mad cow disease.


Jan 16: US agriculture officials continue to insist that Americans are at little risk. Little risk! Little risk!

Jan 23: Italy discovers first mad cow.

Feb 27: Italy confirms its 3rd case of BSE; Sweden “insists on purity of its herds”; Russia’s veterinarian blames mad cow on Jews.

June 12: Mad cow rears its ugly head in the Czech Republic.

July 10: Greece finds a mad cow.


May 21: Failing diagnosis, a vet in Japan does herself in: “I’m so sorry for my unforgivable fault as a veterinarian”

June 11: Israel confirms first case

Aug 13: A canadian death.

Oct 22: Woman in Florida dies… infected in England? Or…


Apr 8: Three deer hunters—two of them friends—die of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (the human variant of mad-cow); CDC declines to investigate whether disease comes from infected deer meat, because there’s no evidence the hunters ate the infected meat. How simple!

Dec 24: Happy holidays: Mad Cow Disease discovered in U.S.

Dec 25: The Nobel laureate who discovered prions (the rogue proteins that cause mad cow disease) contradicts claims of gov’t officials, and thinks the disease is already widespread. His words: “They treat the disease as if it were an infection that you can contain by quarantining animals on farms. It’s as though my work of the last 20 years did not exist.”

Dec 27: President continues to eat Beef. Yum. Officials hope to blame Canada.