This study describes the epidemiological features of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Northern Ireland where the first case occurred in November 1988. They were very similar to those observed in Great Britain except that the annual incidence of BSE in 1990 in Northern Ireland, 2.3 confirmed cases per 10,000 adult cows, was approximately one 10th of that in Great Britain. The findings were also consistent with the current hypothesis that affected cattle had been exposed to a scrapie-like agent via cattle feedstuffs containing ruminant-derived protein. However, a preliminary investigation of the potential sources of infection for cattle in Northern Ireland did not provide any conclusive evidence.
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