BSE in Britain — A Sad History
by Mark Purdey

The first official reports of BSE outbreak were in 1986 from the southeast of England, although many vets, farmers and slaughterers had suspected a trickle of cases from the late 1970s onwards. The disease has been an economic disaster for British farming interests as many cows were slaughtered and British beef was banned from Europe. The disease rapidly developed into a massive bell shaped epidemic which peaked in 1992 at 36,680 cases in the year and dwindled back to 1000 cases a year where the incidence rate stands at today. BSE has taken nearly 200,000 confirmed cases to date. The disease was largely concentrated in the South of England during early days; it erupted in some remote Scottish districts in later years due to the importation of the warble fly in cows being brought from Europe and who were then treated with organophosphates.