Science Fair Extraordinaire.

Laurel finally completed her science fair project tonight, when she was down to the last minute.  We’ve hounded her for months to get it done but she waited and put it off until her sense of urgency finally kicked in, oh, last week sometime.  Her project is a portfolio about Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, more commonly known as Mad Cow Disease.  I previously mentioned her encyclopedic knowledge of Kuru in step 4 of this post.  Here, she puts it to use.

I’m showing a few photos from the project — click for the full version — and ending with the text from her report.  I apologize for the poor quality of photography — I’m tired, Greg’s at the end of his rope with Ethan’s behavior tonight, and I just didn’t want to mess with them anymore.

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My Report about BSE


Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or Mad Cow Disease, is one of a group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies

(TSEs). TSEs affect many species, but the cause remains a mystery. In this report, we will discuss the how, what, who and where of several diseases that still remain great mysteries.


Known as the laughing death, Kuru is believed to have originated in Papua, New Guinea, among the Fore tribe. The strangest thing about Kuru is that 8 times more women and children died than men of the disease. The Fore were cannibals, so when one of the Fore died, the women loved ones would perform a ritual which included stripping the body of meat. The women would then, along with their children, eat the internal organs (including the brain, which was said to make the women and children smarter). The brain was carrying the Kuru. The men would eat the muscle, which was said to make them stronger.


Scrapie is normally found in sheep, cows, and goats. The problem with any TSE is that before anything shows symptoms, no one knows it’s there. Scrapie symptoms are smacking of lips, biting legs and body, and, most of all, scraping not only hair, but skin off.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is found in humans. It almost is exactly the same as BSE. It affects the brain the same way as Mad Cow Disease.


First found in Europe, BSE is not believed to travel unless ruminants are shipped between countries. BSE is not very contagious, but can cross species, such as giraffes, goats, sheep, and cats. Pigs and chickens seem immune to it. It has been moved from countries.

Prospects for the future include prevention and control. The U.S. government has banned meat from these countries for BSE: Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, the Republic of Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Oman, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The U.S. has banned meat from these countries for shipments from BSE countries: Albania, Andorra, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Hungary, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Monaco, Norway, Romania, San Marino, and Sweden.

Perhaps someday scientists will learn what keeps chickens and pigs safe from TSEs, and use it for a cure.