Keywords: variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, vCJD, Italy, risk management, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, BSE, mad cow disease, variant CJD, food safety
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease risk management in Italy
Italy experienced two imported cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in 1994 and viewed the disease as a 'foreign' problem. Early, precautionary actions including: a 1989 ban on UK meat and bone meal (MBM), 1990 ban on UK beef, 1994 domestic ban on mammalian MBM to ruminants, and 1996 ban on UK live cattle, protected Italy from a much larger outbreak. In 2001 Italy implemented an effective and active BSE surveillance system in compliance with European Union regulations. Probably little MBM feeding or amplification of BSE agent occurred within Italian herds after 1996. BSE cases have declined since 2001. In 2007, the European Commission recognised Italy as a controlled BSE risk country. To date only two cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) have been reported. A limited blood donor exclusion policy is in place to prevent cases of blood transfusion mediated vCJD.