Re: Mad cow' disease found in goat
Not really surprising. BSE is thought to have developed from scrapie.
TSE's are a very different disease from any other infectious diseases. The disease is caused by a misfolded variant of a normal protein. There is no nucleic acid at all as would be found in a virus. Also, viruses have numerous proteins in their "shell." Due to the misfolding, the cell's normal enzymes cannot break down the protein, and it accumulates within the cell, eventually leading to cell death. It is thought that the misfolded protein acts as a seed crystal causing the normal protein produced by the cell to become misfolded. All of the TSEs are variations on the same protein.
As far as the implications for human health, the whole thing has been blown far out of proportion by the press. Certainly, preventative measures need to be taken to prevent the spread of the disease in the animal population and to keep it out of the human population. However, the incidence of disease even in the UK, where the vast majority of BSE cases have been identified, is extremely low. Part of the reason is that the protein is only found in nerve cells. Meat should not contain any neural tissue. Don't eat cow or goat brains.