Mad Cow Disease was probably spread to England by an infected antelope, according to Roger Morris, a professor of animal health at Massey University in New Zealand. The infected animal was probably imported in the mid-1970s by a safari park in southwest England.
It got into the food chain when it was ground up for bone meal that was fed to a herd of cattle that became infected and were later ground up for feed themselves.
Other researchers believe that BSE was spread through genetic mutation or from animal feed made from the remains of sheep infected with a similar disease called scrapie, but Morris said he was "almost certain" it was spread by wild game.
"I am examining 30-35 possible explanations for BSE for a paper I am writing," he says. "Of all the explanations, I believe with almost certainty that wildlife contaminated with the disease, probably the antelope, made its way into the meat-and-bone meal and was eaten by cattle and spread that way."
Lion, which eat antelope, are also susceptible to the disease, and a lion in an English zoo died from BSE earlier this year.
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