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BSE and vCJD: Their biology and management

Introduction

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The Open University course S250 Science in context looks at a range of science-based topics of current or recent importance to public debates about science. It does this by examining the scientific facts and concepts that underpin such areas as genetic modification, medicinal plants and climate change, and in doing so aims to forefront a number of themes that we feel are of value in gaining greater insight into these types of controversies. At the points in the text where one or more of these themes is most apparent, we will indicate them as follows:

  • C – Communication

  • R – Risk

  • E – Ethical issues

  • D – Decision making.

Having introduced the four themes, we now turn our attention to the topics of this unit: BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy, a cattle disease) and vCJD (variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, in humans). These two diseases are treated together in order to emphasise the similarity of the underlying science and because the first is believed to have given rise to the second.

This unit is an adapted extract from the Open University course Science in context (S250) [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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