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:
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease;
- Gerstmann-Straussler syndrome;
- fatal familial insomnia;
- variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).
Last Editorial Review: 6/9/2016
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