Cows Gone Mad is a NFT project centred around Mad Cow Disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, BSE). The UK was affected by an outbreak of Mad Cow Disease in the 1980s and its human equivalent variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) in the 1990s. These outbreaks resulted in the culling of 4.4 million cows and the deaths of 177 people.
The outbreak of BSE was due to the practice of adding extra protein to cattle feed, in the form of meat-and-bone meal (MBM) derived from the remains of cows and other animals. Feeds with MBM were found to increase milk yields more than those derived from non-animal sources such as soybeans. Dr Ricardo has a special interest in Mad Cow Disease for two key reasons. Firstly, only ENT surgeons are allowed to remove tonsils in order to confirm the diagnosis because the prion protein that is associated with Mad Cow Disease is predominantly found in the tonsils. Secondly, he contributed towards the eradication of the disease by his involvement in the development and trial of single use surgical instruments (SUSI) for tonsillectomy, whilst working in London, UK (O’Flynn, Silva, Kothari & Persaud, 2007). Tonsil SUSI theoretically reduced the spread of prion proteins associated with reusable tonsillectomy instruments.
Mad Cow Disease taught us that feeding dairy cows with MBM had a twofold effect. This process resulted in short-term gains such as enhanced milk production, but serious long-term consequences, specifically the death of affected cows and humans.
Lessons learnt from Mad Cow Disease:
1) Refrain from human interference with nature for short term gains.
2) Apply understanding to other current environmental, social and health issues such as combatting global warming and encouraging natural immunity to fight viral infections.
O’Flynn, P., Silva, S., Kothari, P., & Persaud, R. (2007). A Multicentre Audit of Single-Use Surgical Instruments (SUSI) for Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy. Annals of The Royal College of Surgeons of England, 89(6), 616–623.