Cover image for The mad cow crisis : health and the public good
The mad cow crisis : health and the public good
Ratzan, Scott C.
Publication Information:
Washington Square, N.Y. : New York University Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
xii, 247 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
BSE : a veterinary history / Transmissibility of BSE across species / Sheep to cows to man : a history of TSEs / Can the spread of BSE and CJD be predicted? / Chronic uncertainty and BSE communications : lessons from (and limits of) decision theory / BSE and CJD : recent developments / Mad cows and Englishmen / BSE : a tragedy is public health in reverse / Politics of BSE : negotiating the public's health / Protecting health : can the UK do better? / Madness, metaphors and miscommunication : the rhetorical life of mad cow disease / Media coverage of the mad cow issue: Introduction / Analysis of media coverage of the BSE crisis in Britain / Analysis of media coverage of the BSE crisis in the United States / Avoiding, averting and managing crisis : a checklist for the future / Farming with nature : a solutions-oriented strategy / Strategies for attaining public health
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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RA644.P93 M33 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In the spring of 1996, when numerous reports of bovine spongioform encephalopathy, popularly known as "mad cow disease," coincided with an outbreak of a similar neuropathological disease in humans, a panic spread across Britain, Europe, and subsequently to the United States. Described as "the biggest crisis the European Union ever had," the mad cow controversy raised important issues about the ways in which risks to the public heath are assessed, disseminated, and controlled. Was the "epidemic" merely a failure of management, the lessons of which could be incorporated into a new strategy for dealing with public anxiety? Was it an isolated case of poor decision-making in a highly volatile economic sector, or was it the kind of nightmare that could face any government responsible for public safety? And what role did the media play in exacerbating an already spiraling crisis?

Divided into four major sections-"Scientific/Historical Perspectives"; "Politics as Health"; "Understanding the Crisis"; and "Lessons and Possibilities" - Mad Cow Crisis assembles the perspectives of a range of experts on this strange and frightening phenomenon, with a view to helping us comprehend how and why such crises occur. Both a careful consideration of how we interpret risk and uncertainty and a step-by-step guide to managing public fear, this important book will interest anyone concerned with public health, communication, science, economics, and medicine.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Prompted by the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) crisis in England, this work is a series of articles analyzing the event as a case study. Following a review of the medical and scientific issues in the first section, the central focus is an analysis of the formulation of a health policy establishing a government position, and communication of a complex medical and scientific issue to the public. Under scrutiny are the roles of government, the scientific community, public health officials, and the media. In England, it appears that the lack of a coherent public policy and the competitive media pressure to report first are identified as major factors leading to a climate of crisis. The media, the first line of public communication, often resorts to terrorism as a substitute for substantiated and straightforward information. This book will interest all involved with the transmission of information that in anyway impinges upon the safety of the population. Chapter references; five appendixes. Recommended for libraries serving the public health community, the media, government officials, and the general public. A. D. Gounaris; emeritus, Vassar College