Dictionary for technical terms

Ingrid Schütt-Abraham and Roland Heynkes, last update 20.01.2007

anatomy = science of the species-specific structure of the body and its parts and of their functions

Annexin V = protein with coagulating properties stored in micro vesicles within the cytoplasm. Annexin V is set free into the blood whenever cells are damaged. The Annexin V content of blood plasma can therefore be used as indicator for cell damage.

arterial = referring to the arteries, belonging to the blood vessels transporting blood from the heart to the body

artery = any blood vessel transporting blood from the heart to the body and its organs. Arteries carry oxygenated and thus bright red blood from the left ventricle to the body and its organs and oxygen deprived and thus dark red blood from the right ventricle to the lung. The big arteries originating from the heart like the aorta are arteries of the elastic type assisting in maintaining a more consistent blood pressure while at a later stage in their course arteries are predominantly of the muscular type and can thus actively change their diameter to regulate blood flow.

astrocyte = large cells belonging to the Neuroglia with many branched out processes and capable of phagocytosis

autopsy = examination of a corpse or cadaver to determine the cause of death

basal = located at the basis, referring to the base

BFAV = The former Bundesforschungsanstalt für Viruserkrankungen der Tiere (Federal Research Centre for Virus Diseases of Animals, formerly located in Tübingen, now moved to the Baltic Sea island of Riems and renamed Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut) running the National Reference Laboratory for Scrapie and BSE (Mad Cow Disease).

BfR = Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (Federal Institute for Risk Assessment), one of the successor institutes of the BgVV founded early in 2002 by the BMVEL in advance of the later regulation by which the BgVV ceased to exist on November 1, 2002, the tasks of the BfR being risk assessment and risk communication.

BGA (Bundesgesundheitsamt, BGA) = Federal Health Office. Federal interdisciplinary scientific institution (1952-1994) located in Berlin and installed as successor of the former Reichsgesundheitsamt. The BGA was research institute and advisory body for the government covering all aspects of human health, food safety and consumer protection and carried out certain administrative tasks like licensing of pharmaceutical drugs. The BGA was structured into 7 institutes each with its own research facilities and employed scientists originating from all fields of bio sciences (predominantly human and veterinary medicine, chemistry, biology and food technology). The BGA was liquidated in 1994 and mainly split into 3 independent institutes, the Robert-Koch-Institute dealing with all kinds of human diseases, the Federal Institute for Medicines as licensing body for pharmaceutical drugs, and the Federal Institute for Consumer Health Protection and Veterinary Medicine, covering all aspects of food safety and licensing veterinary drugs. Another former BGA-institute, the Institute for Water, Air and Soil Hygiene, was merged with the Federal Environmental Office.

BgVV = Bundesinstitut für gesundheitlichen Verbraucherschutz und Veterinärmedizin (Federal Institute for Consumer Health Protection and Veterinary Medicine) which ceased to exist on November 1st, 2002 and was split into the BVL and the BfR while another part of its tasks was handed over to the BFAV.

bleeding = slaughter process by which the animal looses around 50% of its blood content due to severance of the carotid arteries and jugular veins

blood plasma = blood fluid containing fibrinogen and other blood proteins but no blood cells

BMELV = Bundesministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz (Federal Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection. The former BMVEL was renamed BMELV by organization decree of the chancelloress of the 22nd of November 2005. Apparently consumer protection will no longer come first with this ministry.

BMVEL = Bundesministerium für Verbraucherschutz, Ernährung und Landwirtschaft (Federal Ministry for Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture)

bovine = referring to cattle, originating from cattle

BSE = bovine spongiform encephalopathy, a transmissible sponge-like degeneration of the bovine brain

BVL = abbreviation for Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit (Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety), founded in the beginning of 2002 by the BMVEL and formally erected by the Gesetz zur Neuordnung des gesundheitlichen Verbraucherschutzes und der Lebensmittelsicherheit coming into effect on the 1st of November 2002. The BVL consists mainly of the risk management people that previously worked in the BgVV which were merged with several departments of the Biologische Bundesanstalt (BBA)situated in Braunschweig.

capillary = microscopically small blood vessels connecting the arterial and the venous side of the circulatory system and in which the exchange of substances takes place

captive bolt gun = device for the stunning of slaughter animals by which a bolt is fired into the brain of the animal to achieve immediate and deep loss of consciousness. The most common captive bolt devices used in Germany are of the brands Schermer, Cash, and Kerner. For poultry and rabbits also spring-operated captive bolt devices are available from various German manufacturers as well as non-penetrating concussion stunners operated by cartridges or compressed air of the brand Marke Cash.

captive bolt stunning = method for the (EU-wide mandatory) stunning of slaughter animals prior to killing by bleeding. There are principally two methods: the penetrating captive bolt method by which a bolt is fired into the brain of the animal, and the non-penetrating concussion stunning method by which the skull is hit (but not penetrated) by the bolt ending in a mushroom-head (Schermer) or plate (Cash) bolt.

carcase, carcase = body of a slaughter animal after stunning, bleeding and evisceration

central nervous system = brain and spinal cord

central nervous tissue = tissue of brain and spinal cord

central nervous tissue fragments = tiny parts of central nervous tissue prised free by mechanical destruction

central nervous = referring to the brain and spinal cord

chronic wasting disease = prion disease of American cervids, probably initiated by contact with Scrapie-infected sheep, but meanwhile self-sustaining in cervids due to horizontal transmission

circulation time = time required by the blood to pass a certain distance within the body circulation. It can be measured by injecting a marker substance into a vessel and measuring the time it takes the substance to appear in different part of the vessel system, e.g. the respective vessel in the opposite half of the body

clinical = With regard to the course of a disease this denominates the phase following the symptomless incubation time in which the disease has broken out und can be diagnosed from the appearing symptoms. A clinical diagnosis means a diagnosis based on the clinical symptoms in contrast to a diagnosis based on the autopsy of a carcase. Clinical symptoms are the symptoms which are recognizable between the outbreak of the disease and its end by healing or death. Clinically resistant is somebody that will not experience an outbreak of the disease despite an efficient infection. Clinically resistant people may thus be silent carriers of the infective agent.

CJD = Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease

clonic spasm = spasm with jerk-like, short term muscle contractions

CNS = abbreviation for central nervous tissue

crocodile clip = toothed clip reminding of a crocodile's mouth which is used to connect cables to an electric power source like a battery

CSF = cerebrospinal fluid

cytoplasm = body of a cell, part of the cell not belonging to the core or the membrane

Dalton = unit for the relative molecular mass named after the British chemist John Dalton and corresponding to 1/12 of the mass of a 12C-carbon atom or 1,66018 · 10-24 gram

decapitate = to behead, process of decapitation

decapitation = quick and complete severance of head and body, "beheading". In Germany legally used for slaughter of poultry in single cases on farm and - for chicken, guinea fowl, pigeons and quail - also at the abattoir (to prevent birds that missed the stun to bleed while fully conscious)

dorsal = referring to the back, located on the back

electrical stunning = stunning method by which electrical current is passed through the brain of an animal to induce unconsciousness by triggering an epileptic fit

electrocution = method by which the animal is first stunned by passing an electrical current through the brain and subsequently killed by passing an electrical current of sinus 50 Hz through the heart. During the electrical stunning of poultry in a water bath stunner the current is simultaneously passing brain and heart.

electrode = in general a conductive metal part used to deliver the electrical current to a different medium (e.g. fluid or gas). With respect to stunning electrodes are the non-insulated live metal parts of the stunning device by which the current is applied to the animal's head or body.

electroimmobilisation = method by which a week electrical current is passed through the body, especially the spinal cord of an animal to suppress convulsions or kicking reflexes

embolism = blockade of a blood vessel by disseminated tissue fragments, foreign bodies, gas bubbles, thrombus or the like

embolus = tissue particle transported by the blood stream (also foreign bodies, a thrombus or gas bubbles, which get stuck when the vessel narrows and thus block the vessel

emergency slaughter = slaughter of an animal which has to be immediately killed due to an emergency

encephalopathy = non-inflammatory brain disease

enzyme = proteins produced by the cells which are accelerating chemical reactions and are therefore also called bio catalyst

epidemiological = referring to epidemiology

epidemiology = Science of the emergence, spread and control of infectious diseases

epileptic fit = severe synchronous activity of the neurons in the cortex, spontaneously or triggered by external stimuli. A general epileptic insult is associated with typical clinical symptoms (first tonic , then clonic convulsions and loss of consciousness

evisceration = step in the slaughter process by which the contents of the chest and belly cavities of the animals are removed

extracellular space = the part of a tissue located in between the cells

extravasal = outside the blood vessels

extravasate = blood or lymph fluid which has migrated from the vessel into the surrounding tissue

Federal Health Office = english name of the Bundesgesundheitsamt

fibrin = insoluble protein filament developing during blood coagulation from the soluble blood protein fibrinogen

fibrinogen = soluble protein of the blood which as factor I in the blood coagulation system is the precursor of insoluble fibrin

fixation equipment = installation required in abattoirs to confine the animals for stunning and reduce their movements, especially of their heads, to ensure that the stunning devices can be applied correctly, i.e. at the right spot, with the correct pressure and for as long as necessary to induce unconsciousness

Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Federal Research Institut for Animal Health is the new name of the BFAV. The change of names was implemented by the Third Amendment to change the Animal Diseases Act of 22 June 2004, BGBl I No. 29 of 25 June 2004, p. 1248.

FVO = Food and Veterinary Office of the European Commission. The FVO with seat in Grange/Ireland near Dublin is inspecting the veterinary services and establishments in all member states of the EU and third countries exporting to the EU to ensure that EU-legislation is complied with. The inspectors report their findings to the Commission which in case of severe non-compliance may take the respective member state to the European Court of Justice or - far more effective - may stop imports from the respective third-country establishment into the EU or - in case of severe non-compliance of the veterinary or other responsible services - may stop imports from the entire third country

Ganglion = encased collection of neurons located outside the central nervous system

genotype = the sum of all hereditary dispositions of an individual. With regard to TSE mostly used referring only to the prion protein gene

GFAP = acid glial filament protein, protein located in the gliocytes. GFAP is present in higher amounts in the central nervous tissue and can thus be used as indicator substance for CNS

gliocyte = cell functioning as enveloping and supportive tissue of the nervous system, abundantly found in the brain

glycolyzation = attachment of one, two or more sugar molecules

Halal cut = bleeding cut carried out to slaughter or sacrifice an animal in accordance with islamic requirements, and by which all tissues of the throat are cut except the vertebral column. With this cut all large vessels in the neck are severed as well as the windpipe and the weasand and the nerves accompanying them.

hand piece = name for the hand-held device carrying the live electrodes which have to be pressed against the animal's head. Hand pieces are normally designed in form of stunning tongues or a fork

histochemical = referring to histochemistry, microscopical examination of biological tissues following presentation of certain structures by chemical reactions

histochemistry = biological science combining histological and chemical methods to present and identify certain cell or tissue structures

histological = referring to histology, microscopical presentation of biological tissues

histology = Science of the minute structure of biological tissues, microscopical anatomy

histopathological = referring to the histopathology , also used for the method of microscopical examination to derive the diagnosis from typical changes in the normal structure of tissues

histopathology = Science dealing with the pathological changes in tissues of plant or animal origin

homogenate = homogenous, i.e. extremely minced mass

homogenization = production of a homogenate.

horizontal transmission = spread of an infectious disease within a population (flock) by direct or indirect transmission of the pathogen from one animal to another

Hortega-cell = small, mobile cells with many thin and branched out processes belonging to the Neuroglia and capable of phagocytosis.

immobilization = restraining an animal prior to slaughter to restrict its movements to facilitate correct application of the stun

immunhistochemical = referring to immunhistochemistry, immunhistochemical methods are used in microscopically thin tissue slices to render structures visible by marking certain macro molecules with a combination of antibodies and staining agents

immunhistochemistry = method to achieve visibility of certain structures in tissues prepared for histological examination by using chemically marked antibodies

immuno blot = method for the detection of certain proteins or antibodies. Mostly used in form of the Western blot. The proteins are separated by an electrophoretic process, transferred to a membrane, and marked by an antibody-antigen-reaction. immunochemical = immunochemical methods detect certain substances or agents by a combination of chemical and immunological reactions

immuncytochemistry = the process of attaching marked antibodies to certain structures within cells to render these structures visible

immunological = referring to detection methods this means that antibodies are used as probes

incubation time = time between the infection and the outbreak of the disease

jugular vein = usually used for the Vena jugularis externa, the largest vein in the lower (ventral) part of an animal's neck transporting blood from the head to the chest.

Kuru = a variant of Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease which spread epidemically in the first half of the twentieth century under the Fore (natives of Papua New Guinea), probably due to cannibalistic rites

liquor cerebrospinalis = cerebrospinal fluid, lymph-like fluid secreted in the brain which fills the brain ventricles and surrounds the brain and spine.

Lymphonodi haemales: Nodular organs of the immune system present in some species, especially ruminants. Lymphonodi haemales appear morphologically as intermediary between lymph nodes and spleen and functionally as intermediary between spleen and bone marrow. They are located close to the large vessels (like Aorta and Vena cava) and filter blood instead of lymph

macro molecule = molecules with a molecular weight of 10.000 up to more than 500.000 atoms (e.g. proteins).

macroscopical = visible to the naked eye, i.e. without any optical enlargement

marker organism = microorganism, usually a bacterial strain, certain properties of which differ notably from its normal population and which can thus be easily detected even after having mixed with or become contaminated with the normal population. Marker strains are used where spread of microorganisms or contamination processes have to be investigated in a non-sterile environment

marker substance = surrogate for a usually poorly detectable or dangerous substance. The marker substance is easily detectable but has otherwise similar properties as the substance it shall mock and can thus be used to investigate passive spread or contamination

meat inspection = official examination of a slaughtered animal to establish whether its meat is fit or unfit for human consumption

molecular mass = unit Dalton, mass of a molecule derived from the sum of masses of its atoms and related to 1/12 of the mass of a 12C-carbon atom

molecule = smallest particle of a chemical compound, consisting of at least 2 atoms or more with at least one common pair of electrons.

Nervus spinalis = spinal nerve. On both sides of the spinal cord spinal nerves are entering the vertebrae and immediately separate into a dorsal and a ventral root. The dorsal root holds the ganglion (the spinal ganglion).

neuro glia = cells of the sheath and supporting tissue of the nervous system, like astrocytes, Oligodendrocytes and Hortega cells. The cells of the neuro glia maintain their cell division ability even in ageing tissue

neuron = nerve cell

neuron-specific enolase = enzyme located in the cell membranes of neurons which can be used as indicator for CNS tissue

NSE = abbreviation of neuron-specific enolase

oligodendrocyte = small cells with few little branched out processes belonging to the neuroglia

phagocytosis = ingestion and destruction of pathogens, diseased or dead cells and foreign bodies by specialized mobile cells (phagocytes)

physiological = referring to physiology, the normal functions of the body

physiology = science of the normal functions of the body, especially those involving physical processes

pithing rod = elastic, 1 - 2 m long rod made from metal or plastic, which is filed through the hole punched by the captive bolt into the front of the animal, pushed up into its spinal canal and then moved up and down to destroy the reflex centres located in the spinal cord and thus to suppress reflex movements of the animal

pooled = mixed sample prepared from samples which have been individually taken. This has the advantage of covering a larger amount of the substrate to be examined but the disadvantage of diluting a positive sample if it is mixed with negative ones

prion = artificially constructed word introduced by Stanley Prusiner in 1982 for proteinaceous infectious particles (infectious protein), thus giving the Protein only hypothesis postulated by Griffith a memorable name

prion disease = in the opinion of most experts diseases which are caused by prions and comprise of scrapie in sheep and goats, BSE in cattle and other bovines, the chronic wasting disease of American cervids, and the Creutzfeldt-Jakob-disease, Kuru, the Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker-Syndrome (GSS) and the fatal familiar insomnia (FFI) in humans as well as related diseases in cats (feline spongiform encephalopathy, probably caused by the BSE agent) and mink (transmissible mink encephalopathy)

prion protein = originally in its changed protease resistant form main ingredient of prions, which could be isolated from them. Later also used for the normal form - a protein found on the surface of various cells of animal origin and bound to the cell membrane.

Protease = an enzyme degrading proteins

protease resistant = absolutely or relatively insusceptible to protease (Prions and the protease resistant prion protein are only relatively protease resistant.)

protein = long, straight and three-dimensionally folded amino acid chains

Prp = abbreviation for prion protein

PrpC = abbreviation for the physiological cellular, short-lived and soluble form of the prion protein with about 40% alpha-helices and without beta-sheets

PrpSc = abbreviation for the BSE-, CJK-, or Scrapie-typical, relatively protease-resistant, insoluble form of the prion protein with reduced amount of alpha helices and roughly 40% beta-sheets

pulmonary arteries = Arteriae pulmonales, blood vessels transporting the oxygen-deprived and carbon dioxide-loaden blood from the right ventricel of the heart to the lungs where the gas exchange takes place

reflexlessness = state in which spinal cord reflexes in stunned animals are suppressed that might otherwise trigger severe kicking movements which would endanger the slaughter personnel

rendering plant = traditional name for the establishments in which fallen or culled animals, animals or parts thereof which have been judged unfit for human consumption during meat inspection, and other hazardous animal waste is disposed of by grinding and heating the carcasses to destroy possibly present pathogens like parasites, bacteria or virus.

Scrapie = the English name for the prion disease of sheep, which in Germany was traditionally called "Traberkrankheit" (trotter disease).

scrapie strain is the common denominator for various agents causing prion diseases like scrapie. The strains can be differentiated by biochemical methods (e.g. molecular mass, glycolysation, protease resistance) clinical (e.g. incubation time, clinical symptoms) or histopathological features like aggregation patterns, distribution of the pathological prion protein (PrPSc) or lesion profiles (location and extent of damage in cells and tissues).

screening test = test by which it can be determined within short time and with comparably little effort whether unwanted substances, spoilage microorganisms or pathogens are present in the examined substrate. Screening tests generally give only qualitative or semi-quantitative results which then have to be quantified by a more accurate method to prove that residues or spoilage microorganisms exceed the limit or to substantiate the presence of pathogens like Salmonella or the BSE agent.

slaughter = killing of an animal by or in combination with bleeding for the purpose of gaining its meat for human consumption

spinal = referring to the spine, i.e. the vertebra

spinal canal = tube in the centre of the vertebral column formed by the vertebrae which fully surrounds the spinal cord

spinal ganglion = nerve cell assembly within the dorsal root of a spinal nerve

spongiform = sponge-like

SRM = specified risk material. The definition SRM covers those body parts of a slaughter animal which have shown to be infectious in a BSE-infected animal (or an animal infected with another TSE-agent, e.g. Scrapie) and may contain the agent in high concentrations. Tissues defined as SRM have to be removed during slaughter, stained (in Germany with Brilliantblau FCF = E 133) and destroyed under official supervision. SRM comprise in cattle of all ages of the intestines (including the mesentery as of April 1, 2002) plus - in over 12-month-old cattle - the skull (including brain and eyes), the tonsils, the vertebral column (except the tail vertebrae not containing spinal cord) and the spinal cord including the spinal ganglia. In sheep and goats of all ages the SRM comprise of the spleen, in over 12-month-old sheep and cattle also of the skull, including brain and eyes, the tonsils and the spinal cord.

SSC = Scientific Steering Committee of the EU

StMGEV = Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Gesundheit, Ernährung und Verbraucherschutz (Bavarian State Ministry for Health, Food and Consumer Protection)

stunning fork = hand-held fork-like device the tips of which carry the electrodes by which the electrical current is passed through the brain of the animal

stunning tong = hand-held tong-like device the tips of which carry the electrodes by which the current is passed through the brain of the animal

symptom = sign of illness

Syntaxin 1B = membrane protein exclusively and largely present in nervous tissue and thus used as indicator of it

Third Country = country which is not a member of the European Communities

thrombus = blood clot (coagulated blood). A thrombus can develop by attachment of blood platelets (thrombocytes) to defects in the linings of blood vessels or because of a standstill of the blood flow, often they are mixed

tonic spasm = tetanic spasm

trauma = injury due to physical, chemical or psychological causes

TSE = transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, by followers of the protein-only-hypothesis also called prion disease

vein = any blood vessel transporting blood to the heart. Veins are carrying dark red or oxygen-deprived blood in the major body circulation and bright red oxygenated blood in the minor lung circulation

venous = referring to the veins, the vessels leading to the heart

ventral = referring to the belly-side

ventricle = pouch-like conformation of an organ

ventricular fibrillation = condition of the ventricals of the heart in which the heart muscle fibres do no longer contract simultaneously due to functional disturbances of the Erregungsbildungs- und Reizleitungssystems. In this condition coordinated contraction of the ventricle is impossible, and the result is a life-threatening circulatory arrest

water bath stunner = water filled trough for electrical stunning of poultry. The water is connected to an electrical power source and the poultry hung by their feet into shackles fastened to a conveyor belt which pulls the birds through the stunner. The electrical current is passed from head to feet and renders the birds unconscious.

Western Blot = test for the detection of specific proteins, e.g. PrPSc, within a complex tissue mix, e.g. brain. The PrPSc are extracted from the tissue after homogenisation, then protein-splitting enzymes are added which split non-pathogenic cellular prion proteins into fragments distinguishable from the pathogenic ones, separated on a polyacrylamide plate, transferred to a polyvinyl membrane and after coupling to specific antibodies rendered visible by colorants or chemiluminscent substances

wide-bodied = with large inner diameter

Copyright Ingrid Schütt-Abraham and Roland Heynkes