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In view of the first 64 BSE cases (date: 11.5.01) in German cattle herds an overview on TSE and their similarities and differences regarding clinic, pathogenesis and pathology is given. The mechanism of the unconventional agent, an infectious protein (prion), is explained based on the prion model of Stanley Prusiner. The knowledge on transmission, incubation time, host specificity as well as resistance and immunity drawn from experimentally infected animals is discussed. Thus, after oral infection prions are transported by lymphocytes from the stomach-intestinal tract to the spleen. The way to the CNS is still unknown. The presumption for crossing the species barrier is twofold: first the prions of different species have to be biochemically homologous and a genetical disposition has to exist. This is the case for BSE and the new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob-Disease (vCJD). There is evidence that in Great Britain so far 97 (date: 30.3.01) young people acquired vCJD due to consumption of food that contained bovine risk material. Regarding the infectious prion dosis brain, spinal cord and lymphoid tissues are regarded to be most dangerous. The principle of the BSE-test, its evidence as well as steps for prevention and control of BSE are presented.