*This article appeared in the 2009 joke issue.
A senior admitted to the hospital last week has been diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human strain of bovine spongiform encephalopathy - commonly known as Mad Cow disease.
The disease is fatal, and there is no known treatment or cure.
BSE causes progressive neurological degeneration and death in cattle and has the same effect in its variant human form.
Mutated proteins form dense plaque fibers, leading to the appearance of microscopic "holes" in the brain, degeneration of physical and mental abilities and ultimately death.
The disease spreads to humans through consumption of BSE-contaminated meat, with the brain, tonsils and spinal column of infected cattle carrying the highest risk.
While the United Kingdom suffered a major outbreak in November 2000, this is believed to be the first known case in the United States.
Only weeks after University health officials successfully contained a meningococcal infection outbreak, the latest deadly disease to hit campus has caused widespread consternation.
"Holy cow!" said Student Health Service Director Evelyn Wiener. "This really is the last thing we were expecting. FML."
University doctors believe the student contracted the disease after consuming a hoagie containing a cow's spinal column in a popular South Street eatery.
Facing a tough economic climate, the restaurant's manager had been trying to save money by purchasing the meat of slaughtered infected animals from Europe.
"We discussed ways of cutting our costs till the cows came home," said the manager, who wished to remain anonymous, "But in the end this seemed our only option."
But the restaurant manager, who has known ties with the newly formed Penn Vegetarian Society, is being investigated by the University and the FBI on suspicion of purposely using infected meat to "make a statement."
"That this establishment could be a front for a wider anti-meat campaign is something we're taking very seriously," a government spokesman said.
A Penn Vegetarian Society spokesman, however, denied any involvement.
"We will not be cowed by these accusations," he said.
Dining services, meanwhile, is under fire from students for decreased meal options.
"Between the spinach, tomatoes, peanuts and pistachios ban, and now the meat, there's nothing to eat!" College sophomore and Daily Pennsylvanian editor Noah Rosenstein said.
Penn President Amy Gutmann echoed this strong stance in a statement.
"In cooperation with the government, the University will leave no stone unturned in swiftly getting to the bottom of this issue," she said.
"There will be no sacred cows in this investigation," she added.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.