Transmission from four cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) to mice resulted in neurological disease in 100% of recipient animals, after incubation periods of between 265 and 700 days post-injection. The results from the four cases were very similar to one another. There were major differences in the incubation period between the four inbred strains of mice tested, and even between strains of the same genotype, and the incubation periods of heterozygote mice were much longer than those for any of the inbred strains. Transmission from a case of natural scrapie differed in two important respects: there were no differences in the incubation period between mouse strains of the same genotype, and that of the heterozygotes was between those of the homozygotic parental strains. The distribution of vacuolar degeneration in the brains of mice infected with scrapie also differed from those infected with the BSE isolates. Transmission was also achieved from formol-fixed BSE brain. These results show that the same strain of agent caused disease in the BSE cases, and that the relationship of BSE to scrapie in sheep is unclear.


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