Keywords: bovine spongiform encephalopathy, BSE, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, vCJD, Belgium, risk management, mad cow disease, food safety, variant CJD
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease risk management in Belgium
Large imports of cattle and meat and bone meal from countries potentially affected by bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) may have led to the BSE agent entering Belgium, and the occurrence of domestic BSE cases. The first case was confirmed in 1997. The ability to avoid amplification of incoming infectivity, as well as to reduce already circulating infectivity, was greatly improved in Belgium in 1999. The number of BSE cases decreased after peaking in 2001. No BSE cases were identified in 2007, at which time the European Commission recognised Belgium as a country with 'controlled BSE risk'. To date, there have been no reported cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in Belgium. Recent enhancements to food safety and blood safety systems, along with safeguards against transmission of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (including vCJD) in hospital environments, will help to prevent the occurrence of vCJD in Belgium.