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BSE was first detected in Britain in the late 1980s, spreading from there to other parts of Europe and ravaging cattle herds until the early 2000s. It has been linked to the brain-wasting Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.

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BSE incidence has markedly decreased over recent years and is now estimated to be close to zero cases per year worldwide, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH).

The previous confirmed classical BSE case in Britain was in 2021, and an atypical case of the disease was reported last year.

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