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Definition of Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy: One of a number of progressive neurodegenerative disorders in animals and humans caused by similar uncharacterized agents that produce spongiform changes in the brain.

Specific examples of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies include:

  • In animals:
    • scrapie, which affects sheep and goats;
    • bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also called mad cow disease, which affects cattle;
    • transmissible mink encephalopathy;
    • feline spongiform encephalopathy;
    • chronic wasting disease (CWD) of mule deer, white-tailed deer, black-tailed deer, and elk.
  • In humans:
    • kuru;
    • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease;
    • Gerstmann-Straussler syndrome;
    • fatal familial insomnia;
    • variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

Source: MedTerms™ Medical Dictionary
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=21689
Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012

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