Keywords: risk management, country comparison, policy changes, regulations, BSE signal events, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, mad cow disease, risk reduction measures
Comparative country case study analysis using relative time anchors to determine policy drivers for bovine spongiform encephalopathy risk management
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) emerged in the UK in the mid-1980s, and eventually spread to other countries, ultimately becoming a disease of global concern. Each BSE-affected country detected its first domestic case at different points in time, faced different internal and external challenge levels, and responded with different risk management policy actions. Rationalising the different responses chosen by individual countries over time is complicated by the diverse country-specific contexts, regulatory systems, and international trade practices. A semi-quantitative country comparison approach using signal events as time anchors reveals policy change and regulation occurred slowly, despite knowledge of BSE as a new, emerging zoonotic disease. Many countries viewed BSE as a 'foreign' problem, and reacted only after domestic BSE was detected. Lengthy times to implementation of risk reduction measures despite knowledge of BSE signal events in many of the later-affected countries resulted in an extended outbreak of greater magnitude.