DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid1801.111225 Suggested citation for this article: Seuberlich T, Gsponer M, Drögemüller C, Polak MP, McCutcheon S, Heim D, et al. Novel prion protein in BSE-affected cattle, Switzerland. Emerg Infect Dis. 2012 Jan; [Epub ahead of print]
Novel Prion Protein in BSE-affected Cattle, SwitzerlandTo the Editor:
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is a feed-borne prion disease that affects mainly cattle but also other ruminants, felids, and humans (1). Currently, 3 types of BSE have been distinguished by Western immunoblot on the basis of the signature of the proteinase K–resistant fragment of the pathologic prion protein (PrPres): the classic type of BSE (C-BSE) and 2 so-called atypical types of BSE with higher or lower molecular masses of PrPres (H-BSE and L-BSE, respectively) (2). C-BSE is transmitted to cattle by ingestion of contaminated meat-and-bone meal, a feed supplement produced from animal carcasses and by-products. H-BSE and L-BSE have been identified by active disease surveillance, and incidence in aged cattle is low; but little is known about their epidemiology, pathobiology, and zoonotic potential (3). We describe 2 recent cases of BSE in aged cattle in Switzerland in which a PrPres phenotype distinct from those of C-, L- and H-BSE was unexpectedly displayed.