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[P]
Is "Mad Cow Disease" being blown out of proportion?

By Dr Caleb in Media
Thu May 22, 2003 at 07:07:05 AM EST
Tags: Food (all tags)
Food

One cow, in a Northern part of Canada was rejected by a governement food inspector in January because it didn't look healthy. The animal was slaughtered, its internal organs and brain were removed and the meat, hide and bones were sent to be turned into chicken and pig feed.

Five months later the analysis of its brain turned out that the eight year old animal had bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or "Mad Cow Disease". Then yesterday, all hell broke loose.


Stocks of McDonalds, Wendy's, Burger King all fell. The United States, Australlia, South Korea, New Zealand all temporarily banned the importation of Canadian Beef. A wise precaution, but they also banned the importation of Torontonian garbage for a short time. 3000 kilometers away from the cow, they suspect there might be BSE in the waste?

Alberta's economy is heavily based on Agriculture, and Beef is the #1 export. Cattle outnumber people in Alberta 2:1. Having to slaughter 5.5 million animals because 1 older cow developed the disease would devastate the Alberta economy, after two bad years of droughts.

Critics are also concerned with the 5 months it took to diagnose this case of BSE. Some people are saying that the cattle population should be tested for BSE. Well, the test involves removing the brain and slicing it into strips to check for spongy masses. Effective, but drastic.

Has the media gotten people so misinformed about last years outbreak of BSE in the U.K. that there is only a knee jerk reaction to hearing the words "Mad Cow Disease"?

A little Q & A

  • Q. Can beef infected by mad cow disease make us sick?
  • A. Strong evidence links bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, with a fatal brain disease in humans called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or vCJD. CJD is one of a small group of fatal diseases caused by infectious agents called prions which attack the brain, killing cells and creating gaps in tissue.
  • Q. How common is variant CJD?
  • A. This new disease was first reported in the United Kingdom, site of a large mad cow outbreak, in 1996. The UK has now had 135 cases of vCJD, with six people still alive. One Canadian, who had lived in Britain between 1987 and 1990, has died of vCJD.
  • Q. How long is the incubation period for vCJD?
  • A. Years, although how many years is a matter of scientific debate. Some think it's 10 to 15 years; some think it could incubate up to 40 years.
  • Q. What are the symptoms?
  • A. Poor muscle co-ordination, memory loss, cognitive impairment, muscle spasms.
  • Q. Is Alberta beef safe?
  • A. Yes, say government and beef industry officials.

  • For one thing, Alberta cattle are generally slaughtered before they're 22 months old. The disease develops as the animal matures, so the chances of mad cow in a young animal is extremely remote, Health Canada says.
    For another thing, the BSE agent tends to concentrate in the cow's brain, nervous system and intestines.
    The World Health Organization says no infectivity has been reported in muscle tissue, such as steak or roast beef.
    The British used nervous system parts in products like sausages before a ban was put in place. They are not commonly eaten in Canada, even in hot dogs, according to the Canadian Cattle Commission.
  • Q. Is the disease spread through milk?
  • A. No.
  • Q. Does the infected Alberta cow pose a human health risk?
  • A. No, because it wasn't used for food for humans or for other cattle. We don't yet know how the cow was infected, or whether other cattle were exposed to the same conditions. However, cows can't "catch" mad cow from each other.
  • Q. Could mad cow disease spread here as it did in Britain?
  • A. Very unlikely. The disease spread in Britain through cattle feed made from ground-up ruminant bodies that were infected with mad cow. Canada no longer allows such feed.
  • Q. Does the disease strike all people equally?
  • A. So far, all the vCJD victims have shared a similar genetic makeup, one that occurs in about 40 per cent of the Caucasian population.

I worked evenings and mid watches in my late teens in a slaughter house. I know the drill. An animal walks into the chute, a government food inspector takes a look at it, it gets approved or rejected by the inspector and you 'dispatch' the animal. It is then sent on for processing and further inspections, or put on the rendering pile. At no time did this animal have a chance to get into the human food chain.

The process for 'rendering' involves high temperatures, however critics say that it is not high enough to destroy any prions that remain in nerve and brain matter. Since it is illegal for cattle to be fed on other cattle renderings, only chickens and pigs which are immune to BSE, the Cattle association claims this to be a non issue.

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Poll
Are you concerned with Mad Cow Disease?
o Yes, it scares me silly. 14%
o No, I am not concerned. 48%
o No, I don't eat beef. 20%
o Inshiro's girlfriend calls it her 'time of the month'. 16%

Votes: 95
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o cow
o garbage
o A little Q & A
o Also by Dr Caleb


Display: Sort:
Is "Mad Cow Disease" being blown out of proportion? | 183 comments (162 topical, 21 editorial, 0 hidden)
Some thoughts on this... (4.35 / 14) (#1)
by jd on Wed May 21, 2003 at 05:05:40 PM EST

First, a potential 40% "at-risk" group is higher than comfortable. This number was first produced by a microbiology Professor at Leeds University, almost a decade ago. That it has barely budged since is a strong indicator that he was (as usual) right.

Second, it's only assumed that it's caused by prions. Since proteins shouldn't be directly transportable from the stomach to the blood stream, and CERTAINLY shouldn't cross the blood/brain barrier, there are doubters of this theory. It's also confirmed that the cause can survive temperatures as high as 9,000 degrees celcius. Waaay too high for proteins.

Last, but by no means least, the US is way too complacent about BSE/vCJD. The last person to question the fact that US cattle are still fed with the same food-mix as the UK used in the 80s, which caused the Mad Cow Disease epidemic, faced the wrath of Texan cattle farmers.

Since that time, I've seen no clear evidence that US beef is safe, that US vets are even looking for evidence of the disease, or that US farms are being inspected for possible outbreaks.

This, given that Japan suffered a massive outbreak a year or so back, and was nearly crippled by it. The US -is- known to have similar diseases in other mammals, but I've not seen any statistics on the scale or transmissability of those variants.

We must remember that BSE and vCJD are simply variants of scrapie, an ancient brain disease for sheep. Why/how it crossed into cattle, and then humans, and why it only appears to have done so a very small number of times, is as yet unknown. Being unknown, we can't assume it's impossible for other variants of the disease to cross over, we can merely say that it's not going to happen often.

That leaves one problem. If nobody's looking, in the US, then how can we be sure it already hasn't?

Excellent post, just one point (4.33 / 3) (#12)
by Simon Kinahan on Wed May 21, 2003 at 05:35:28 PM EST

You're right that the infectious agent has never been seen in the wild, but we do know BSE (and the other diseases in the same group) affect prions in the brain. We also know that individuals who eat nervous tissue from individuals infected with prion diseases tend to get such diseases. We know this because of Kuru, another variant of CJD that affected canibal communities in New Guinea.

Where did you get the idea that the infectious agent can survive 9000 degree temperatures ?

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

Temperature (none / 0) (#81)
by Dr Seltsam on Thu May 22, 2003 at 08:08:10 AM EST

To clarify the temperature issue, prions are inactivated at temperatures of 135 C under elevated pressure. Standard laboratory decontamination procedure.
The fact that I'm paranoid does not mean that they are not after me.
[ Parent ]
Prion Sterilization (none / 0) (#178)
by Kadin2048 on Thu Jun 05, 2003 at 11:46:50 PM EST

The standard procedure in the U.K. for dealing with instruments and anything else contaminated with BSE-infected tissue is outlined here [Google cache].

Instruments which actually come in contact with infected brain or nervous system tissue should be destroyed by incineration.
Instruments which don't contact with brain or nervous system tissue are to be steam sterilized at 134-138 degrees C for 18 minutes.

[ Parent ]

Whoa. (5.00 / 1) (#13)
by Dr Caleb on Wed May 21, 2003 at 05:42:43 PM EST

I didn't know that the US still let cattle be cannibals. I figured they would be more enlightened or at least paranoid by now.

I think 40% risk isn't too bad. West Nile only affects the young, old and weak. SARS kills the old. But the key is exposure.

How does one get exposed? is the scary question. If it is just from nervous system of these animals, then I have nothing to worry about, I'm a t-bone man.

A friend who is more versed in biology than I described BSE prions as a sort of catalyst that are produced by a sort of cancer, but can be contagious on some sort of level. I don't think I like that explanation.

A shot in the dark, but blood to blood transfer could ocurr due to bleeding ulcers. But that's why I'm an engineer...


Vive Le Canada - For Canadians who give a shit about their country.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

US cows not legally cannibalistic (4.00 / 2) (#32)
by rusty on Wed May 21, 2003 at 06:39:57 PM EST

According to the FDA:
To prevent the establishment and amplification of BSE through feed in the United States, FDA implemented a final rule that prohibits the feeding of mammalian protein to ruminant animals in most cases. This rule, Title 21 Part 589.2000 of the Code of Federal Regulations, became effective on August 4, 1997.
That press release also mentions that the FDA is doing active monitoring for BSE in US cattle, which jd said wasn't going on. So, I guess, one two three four, I declare citation war.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Must have been a troll.<nt> (3.00 / 2) (#36)
by Dr Caleb on Wed May 21, 2003 at 06:46:34 PM EST


Baroque: [Bar-oak] (adj.) (s.) ; What you are when you have no Monet.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

Well (3.00 / 2) (#37)
by rusty on Wed May 21, 2003 at 06:49:29 PM EST

It spurred me to find out whether we do have a rule against feeding cows to each other, so right on, I guess.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
So what? (4.00 / 4) (#43)
by President Saddam on Wed May 21, 2003 at 07:48:02 PM EST

The american cattle industry are a bunch of cowboys, I'd be surprised if they followed the legislation.

---
Allah Akbar
[ Parent ]

Hee! (5.00 / 1) (#54)
by rusty on Wed May 21, 2003 at 11:07:50 PM EST

The american cattle industry are a bunch of cowboys

:-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Believe it or not (5.00 / 2) (#67)
by President Saddam on Thu May 22, 2003 at 03:12:11 AM EST

That was unintentional. My subconscious must have a sense of humour.

---
Allah Akbar
[ Parent ]

Can I see some links please? (4.60 / 5) (#15)
by Anonymous 7324 on Wed May 21, 2003 at 05:46:45 PM EST

From conversations with someone at the attached medical school who works on both animal and human forms, he has assured me that the disease most certainly is protein-based. In fact, there are apparently a variety of protease-based characterizations as well as structural elements that can be used to look at prion diseases in general.

Given that, your assertions are very surprising. I'd like to see some links to research papers if you don't mind, especially since it's not disagreement on the finer details, but on the very basic causes -- i.e. things like "what's the infectious agent?"

[ Parent ]

Oh, come on (4.50 / 4) (#34)
by jbuck on Wed May 21, 2003 at 06:42:52 PM EST

9,000 degrees C? At that temperature, the prions will separate into atomic nucleii and electrons (that is, a plasma). Sorry, but prions aren't that indestructible.

[ Parent ]
well (4.00 / 1) (#44)
by celeriac on Wed May 21, 2003 at 08:03:20 PM EST

I thought he was trying to give evidence that it wasn't prions...

[ Parent ]
The point is (4.00 / 1) (#45)
by Anonymous 7324 on Wed May 21, 2003 at 08:26:45 PM EST

those are temperatures at which, if I understand correctly, more or less everything vaporises into plasma. Now, unless it's plasma itself that's infectious, 9,000 centigrade seems a tad high.

[ Parent ]
yes (none / 0) (#47)
by celeriac on Wed May 21, 2003 at 09:09:24 PM EST

I think he tacked on a couple of zeros there.

[ Parent ]
I don't remember the exact number but... (none / 0) (#105)
by akamoe on Thu May 22, 2003 at 11:54:26 AM EST

I do distinctly recall a newspaper article on vCJD, and there being someone from a hospital's Sterile Supply dept. saying that just autoclaving instruments used on victims of vCHD or BSE wasn't enough.

This is a FWIW quote, as I don't know the origin of the site, but it sounds quite similar to what I recall reading in the newspaper: Now there is evidence that attempts to disinfect instruments by "pressure cooking" them at high temperatures in an autoclave might do more harm than good. David Taylor of the Institute for Animal Health in Edinburgh found that increasing the temperature of the autoclave actually made it harder to destroy CJD prions. In one experiment, infected tissue samples were heated at 134 fC for 9, 18 and 30 minutes. The treated samples were not infectious. However, when the experiment was repeated at 138 fC, the tissue was still infectious. In Britain, the standard temperature range for autoclaving instruments is 134 to 138 fC. (from http://www.mad-cow.org/99feb_late_news.html)

Prions are hardy little bastards -- they can survive boiling and many disinfectants.

[ Parent ]
oh no (3.00 / 2) (#55)
by flimflam on Wed May 21, 2003 at 11:12:20 PM EST

<Kodos>Your pathetic safety measures are no match for our puny prions! You are all doomed! DOOOMED!</Kodos>


-- I am always optimistic, but frankly there is no hope. --Hosni Mubarek
[ Parent ]
hrm yes... (none / 0) (#161)
by Sir Altoid on Sun May 25, 2003 at 05:26:41 PM EST

Okay, here's how it is:
  1. When "kuru" was first diagnosed in a Papau New Guinea tribe, researchers and scientists realized that it couldn't be viruses, bacteria, or any eukaryotic cells causing it. This meant that there had to be another infectious agent. Prions happen to be this infectious agent due to the fact that a) they are able to cross the blood/brain barrier (how else would hormones get made if fats [carried by cholesterol, a protein] were not accessible to the pituitary gland?), and b) they are able to bind to specific proteins on the surface of cells in the brain that cause the production of more of the protein, which in turn kills the cells and makes the brain appear "spongy" under a microscope.
  2. Prions can be destroyed at temperatures exceeding a certain achievable temperature, well below 9,000 degrees Celsius. They are proteins, which means that they simply unfold under certain conditions (temperature, chemicals, etc.), and that is the reason that it has probably not been as widespread as it could be if it could withstand significantly higher temperatures then proteins can. The fact is that it simply won't. You can't un-fry an egg; once it's over-easy, there's no going back.
  3. As it happens, you're more likely to get botulism, tuburculosis, or even bubonic plauge than you are to get Mad Cow Disease. Why? Well,  you have to get extremely unlucky to have eaten any part of an infected cow (unlikely); have that cow's nervous tissue someplace in the food you're eating (also unlikely); and then have the meat improperly cooked or stored (not nearly as unlikely, but still not too common). Okay. Made it through the animal, but now onto the hard part: humans. Inside the stomach, pepsid and hydrocholoric acid are responsible for breaking down proteins and killing foreign invaders (like bacteria and viruses, since not many things can survive at 2.3 pH for over an hour). Still, barring an easy entrance like an open sore in the mouth or a bleeding ulcer, it might just be buried in enough tissue to escape that hostile environment of the stomach. After being pushed into the small intestine, it has to make its way through even more proteases (enzymes that catalyze proteins) before being absorbed into the bloodstream. Then, after all that, you still have to have the receptors on your brain cells that will bind to the prion. If you don't have the receptor, then it can't replicate. You don't die. That occurs in 60% of the population. Even if vCJD was airborne, and had a 100% chance of killing you once it began replicating, 60% of the humans on the planet would live on. (Well, at least the white ones. I think I remember reading that the 40% was for Caucasians, so I'm not too sure on the stats for other ethnicities.) In all honesty, you have a better chance of being struck by lightning, winning the lottery, and having Klinefelter's Syndrome than contracting Mad Cow Disease.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Peace.
____

There's no such thing as a stupid question. There *are*, however, stupid people without answers.
[ Parent ]

Is tobacco safe? (4.63 / 11) (#2)
by enterfornone on Wed May 21, 2003 at 05:12:13 PM EST

Yes, say tobacco industry officials.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
Are Florida oranges safe? (4.00 / 7) (#6)
by pyramid termite on Wed May 21, 2003 at 05:20:45 PM EST

Yes, say the Florida orange grove owners.

THEY MUST BE HIDING SOMETHING!!

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Not hiding it very well (4.73 / 15) (#23)
by KilljoyAZ on Wed May 21, 2003 at 06:20:40 PM EST

The entire US is on orange alert. No oranges will slip through on our watch.

===
Creativitiy cannot be SPELT by over 98% of all American troops. - psychologist
[ Parent ]
If we let the Mad Cow Disease get us (2.00 / 12) (#4)
by BankofNigeria ATM on Wed May 21, 2003 at 05:16:57 PM EST

The terrorists will have won.

When you rate my comments anything other than a 5, you automatically declare that you are a homosexual socialist.

Prions (3.50 / 4) (#11)
by Edgy Loner on Wed May 21, 2003 at 05:31:24 PM EST

How for real are they? BSE, kuru, scrapie etc are blamed on them, but have they been definatively shown to exist and be the causitave agent? As I understand it prions are a variant form of some protein that can transform non variant forms of the protein into the variant form, basically acting like a catalyst. The variant protein molecules cause the illness.
Does anyone have good insights into this, or any hints about good online resources?

This is not my beautiful house.
This is not my beautiful knife.
Google is your friend (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by Pihkal on Wed May 21, 2003 at 07:44:41 PM EST

The prions themselves are very real. Dr. Prusiner won a Nobel prize for his discovery of prions.


"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered!"
-- Number 6
[ Parent ]
Some prion info (4.50 / 4) (#80)
by Dr Seltsam on Thu May 22, 2003 at 08:04:03 AM EST

Prions are real. You can take a sample of the normal prion protein PrP(C), seed it with a small amount of the pathogenic prion protein PrP(Sc) and watch it all turn into PrP(Sc). This is well established, although the mechanism of this process is not fully understood. However, if you perform this experiment with pure compounds, the resulting PrP(Sc) is not infectious. It is chemically identical to PrP(Sc) isolated from diseased brains, but it cannot cause disease itself. If you do this in a living cell, you can generate infectiosity. On the other hand, you can't infect cells that do not possess the normal prion PrP(C). So, the prion is essential for mad cow disease and CJD, but there has to be some other factor involved, the nature of which is presently unknown.
The fact that I'm paranoid does not mean that they are not after me.
[ Parent ]
+1 FP Interesting and well-organized article (2.00 / 15) (#14)
by Tex Bigballs on Wed May 21, 2003 at 05:42:55 PM EST

I feel that these other countries like Canada and England need to rethink how they're handling their beef production. Over here in the United States, we don't have these sorts of problems.

The reason is that the United States has strict codes and inspections with regards to how food is processed. I understand that they may have similar "official codes" in England and so on, but let's face facts-- the government officials in these sorts of second-tier countries are notoriously corrupt individuals.

A clean bill-of-inspection is often cheaper than installing the necessary safeguards and procedures to prevent such an outbreak from happening in the first place. Only when these cesspool government officials are rooted out, will the public health and safety of these nations slowly begin to improve.

I think we've learned. (4.33 / 3) (#21)
by Dr Caleb on Wed May 21, 2003 at 06:13:16 PM EST

Canadian inpection processes is what kept this animal out of the food supply. I think we learned long before the outbreak in the U.K. that feeding cows to cows was baaaaaad.

But thanks, high praise indeed!


Baroque: [Bar-oak] (adj.) (s.) ; What you are when you have no Monet.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

Infected animal was possibly American (4.00 / 4) (#24)
by daishan on Wed May 21, 2003 at 06:21:19 PM EST

The infected animal was quite possibly American, I don't know if this is unfounded rumor or not, but I do know what thousands of healthy (and often unhealthy) cattle cross the border between the two countries yearly.

The US and Canada did not test for Mad Cow before 2000.

Testing procedures and methodologies in the US and Canada are virtually identical

[ Parent ]

Doubtful (4.00 / 2) (#33)
by jbuck on Wed May 21, 2003 at 06:40:53 PM EST

The infected animal was from way up north in Alberta; there's no reason to suspect that it is American.

[ Parent ]
Why not? (4.00 / 2) (#38)
by Dr Caleb on Wed May 21, 2003 at 06:51:30 PM EST

The last one, in 1993(?), came from England. But this one may have spent time in Saskatchewan.


Vive Le Canada - For Canadians who give a shit about their country.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

Just saw the 6:00 news... (none / 0) (#48)
by Dr Caleb on Wed May 21, 2003 at 09:20:10 PM EST

Our local station had an interview with the farmer who's cow this was. He's a recent (3 years) immigrant from the US. Mississippi IIRC.

The Farmer bought it 3 years ago at an auction. It was 8 years old. There are still 5 years of it's life to trace.

If the farmer can be American, why not the cow?


Baroque: [Bar-oak] (adj.) (s.) ; What you are when you have no Monet.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

Hilarious (4.75 / 8) (#28)
by gumbo on Wed May 21, 2003 at 06:29:33 PM EST

"... the government officials in these sorts of second-tier countries are notoriously corrupt individuals."
Right now that argument is hanging by a chad.

[ Parent ]
I'd like to know... (none / 0) (#90)
by purephase on Thu May 22, 2003 at 09:46:32 AM EST

.. what constitutes a "second-tier" country, and what sort of evaluation methods were used to label the UK and Canada as such.


[ Parent ]
I guess ... (5.00 / 2) (#92)
by gumbo on Thu May 22, 2003 at 10:18:33 AM EST

he could argue defence spending, but knowing Tex it's probably something along the lines of "geographical proximity to French culture".

[ Parent ]
"Our... (5.00 / 1) (#94)
by purephase on Thu May 22, 2003 at 10:26:02 AM EST

.. Terror Alert Orange is prettier than yours."


[ Parent ]
Unfortunately... (5.00 / 3) (#61)
by Pihkal on Thu May 22, 2003 at 01:30:56 AM EST

The US "strict codes and inspections" are not strict at all, but even if they were, there are several other components at work, as well. One is that the spongiform encephalopathies can jump species. There is already a wide variety of mammals that they infect, including cows, minks, deer, elk, sheep, goats, hamsters, squirrel monkeys, raccoons, skunks and humans. The US law only forbids the feeding of cows to other cows (technically, all ruminants.) There is nothing forbidding the feeding of sheep to cows or vice versa. Also, because of the long incubation periods, many healthy-looking animals may have a TSE (transmissible spongiform encephalopathy) and not show it at the time they are slaughtered. Furthermore, "downed" cows (cows too sick or weak to be moved into the slaughterhouse) are not tested for BSE and are instead rendered to be fed to other animals. It is possible that downed cows are showing early signs of BSE. It is difficult to know for certain because cattle are killed at a young age relative to the incubation period of BSE. It's quite possible that the cattle that are actually diagnosed with BSE or are downed, are just the ones with the more virulent forms or which are genetically more susceptible to the disease.

As for BSE not being in America, there is a lot of circumstantial evidence otherwise. Scrapie has been around over a century in America, and sheep have routinely been fed to cattle in the last 60 years. Animals that could have a TSE are routinely ground up and fed to livestock. Or consider the opinion of Dr. Richard Marsh, UW-Madison TSE expert. In 1984, he examined an outbreak of transmissible mink encephalopathy in a farm in Stetsonville, WI where 60% of the minks died. When questioned, the farmer said that the meat he fed the mink came from sick and downed cattle. Dr. Marsh came to the conclusion that the most likely source of all those minks contracting TME was from diseased cattle. If true, that would mean BSE is already in America. In 1996,  the man who won the Nobel for his work in discovering prions, Dr. Prusiner, agreed with Dr. Marsh that BSE was probably already in America.

It gets worse. The prions involved are extremely hardy. They are resistant to chemicals and UV radiation. They are definitely resistant to the heat levels used in rendering operations. They can even survive in the ground for years. An NIH experiment in 1991 buried scrapie-infected hamster brain tissue in soil for three years, and the prions were still strong enough to infect other animals. In Iceland, pastures grazed by scrapie-infected sheep were left fallow for several years, repopulated with healthy sheep and then had outbreaks of scrapie again. Similar re-outbreaks have occurred with elk farms in the US.

As for why the TSE's are a big deal, well, there are a lot of reasons. Currently, CJD is untreatable and fatal. Our public health safeguards are inadequate and operating on incorrect assumptions. The generally long incubation periods mean it may be another decade or two before the true extent of the problem comes to light. (Incubation periods are shown to be somewhat relative to the size and metabolism of the animal in question, which means that rodents show the disease quicker than humans.) A few studies from Yale and Duke suggest that CJD is already more widespread than thought, and being misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's. All of which may add up to a health disaster in the future.

On the other hand, there are some causes for hope. One is that the cross-species infection rate appears to be very low. Even in a worst-case scenario, it may be that TSEs kill fewer people than cancer, allergies, SARS, etc. On the gripping hand, TSEs are mostly preventable (or were, at one point in time.) Simply stop feeding animals to animals that didn't evolve to eat animals. A cow evolved to eat grass. Nowadays, it's fed practically everything but grass.

"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered!"
-- Number 6
[ Parent ]

worst case scenario... (none / 0) (#96)
by joto on Thu May 22, 2003 at 10:28:27 AM EST

Ok, this is just to nitpick. But what do you mean by "Even in a worst-case scenario, it may be that TSEs kill fewer people than cancer, allergies, SARS, etc."?

Is this a best possible worst-case scenario, or is it a worst possible worst-case scenario?

[ Parent ]

Joto: 1 Pihkal: 0 (none / 0) (#100)
by Pihkal on Thu May 22, 2003 at 11:20:41 AM EST

Sorry, I should have phrased that better. What I was trying to say was that the worst TSEs ever get in humans may not actually be that bad. It may be that even if every hamburger in the nation had a helping of diseased cow brain in it, the cross-species infection rate would still be so low as to not be a major priority compared to other health problems.

On the other hand, the evidence is that the TSEs can become more virulent over time. The NIH study involving transplating hamster scrapie into mice had interesting results. The first group of mice never became sick, but they carried the prions at an undetectable level. When the mice brains were injected into hamsters, all the hamsters got scrapie again. But the interesting part is that when the brain tissue of the first group of mice were injected into other mice, the second group became sick. Subsequent rounds of this resulted in faster and more lethal versions of mouse TSE.

However, outside of cannibalism, humans do not ingest other human brain or nervous tissue, so CJD will probably not become more dangerous that way. Nor is it known exactly how the TSEs become more virulent in this transplanting manner. Other big unknowns are genetic predispositions (some sheep appear to be genetically resistant to scrapie), and  the various factors affecting incubation time.

"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered!"
-- Number 6
[ Parent ]

Except that.. (none / 0) (#111)
by Kwil on Thu May 22, 2003 at 01:32:35 PM EST

However, outside of cannibalism, humans do not ingest other human brain or nervous tissue, so CJD will probably not become more dangerous that way.

Except that there is evidence (at least among deer) that the disease can be transmitted through generations as well.  Oops.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
Uh-oh (none / 0) (#124)
by Pihkal on Thu May 22, 2003 at 07:27:50 PM EST

Hey, do you have a link? I haven't seen that one yet in my research. But knowing how difficult it is to detect TSEs, particularly in low amounts, makes it quite possible that the prions are present in more tissues than just nervous system tissue, and we just haven't detected it yet.

Hmmm, I'm considering changing my .sig to:
"Are zombies at risk for Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease?"

"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered!"
-- Number 6
[ Parent ]

See above: "For Fear and Fun" (nt) (none / 0) (#131)
by Kwil on Thu May 22, 2003 at 09:17:27 PM EST


That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
You may not have many BSE cases (none / 0) (#77)
by PhadeRunner on Thu May 22, 2003 at 07:21:28 AM EST

But you do have a large number of cases of related diseases.  Transmissible Mink Encephalopathy (TME) and Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) are rife in the mink farming business and in the wild.  

[ Parent ]
Just so you know why (5.00 / 1) (#115)
by decaf_dude on Thu May 22, 2003 at 03:56:06 PM EST

I rated you 1 for that "second-tier" flamebait remark.

--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


[ Parent ]
Enter subject here. (4.00 / 2) (#18)
by morceguinho on Wed May 21, 2003 at 06:06:02 PM EST

I liked it, could be longer and mroe documented, with all the fuss about BSE i'm sure you could provide more info and links to the i'm-too-lazy-to-google-it people (namely me :) but i liked reading it. I have no clue as to how the US is dealing with it nor do i care. As far as i know cows are no longer cannibals over here.

It's funny though, some centuries ago it was pork meat and it was even referred to as 'bad' by the main religious books (i.e. tora and koran). Then it was madcows and, lately, those constipated sheep or something like that. More recently, some months ago, there was a scandal about these nitrosomethings they were feeding chickens with. A few thousands died while (almost) everyone kept eating them 'cos, as far as it's known, those quemicals are as cancer-inducind (i can't spell.. cancerigenous?) as smoking cigarettes.

Carcinogenic.<nt> (2.00 / 1) (#19)
by Dr Caleb on Wed May 21, 2003 at 06:10:30 PM EST


Vive Le Canada - For Canadians who give a shit about their country.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

Thanks. <nt> (2.33 / 3) (#29)
by morceguinho on Wed May 21, 2003 at 06:35:01 PM EST



[ Parent ]
So there were these two cows in a field. (4.14 / 7) (#27)
by Donblas on Wed May 21, 2003 at 06:26:37 PM EST

One says "'lo, mate. Aren't you worried about that 'mad cow' disease that's been going around?"

The other replies

. . . wait for it . . .

"What the hell for? I'm a squirrel!"

i dont get it <nt> (none / 0) (#73)
by Xcyther on Thu May 22, 2003 at 05:15:40 AM EST



_________________________________________
"Insydious" -- It's not as bad as you think

[ Parent ]
The cow thought she was a squirrel [n/t] (none / 0) (#83)
by EMHMark3 on Thu May 22, 2003 at 08:38:47 AM EST


T H E   M A C H I N E   S T O P S
[ Parent ]

to heck with mad cow (4.00 / 4) (#31)
by circletimessquare on Wed May 21, 2003 at 06:37:47 PM EST

worry about this if you live in the us: chronic wasting disease among deer- same thing as mad cow, coming soon to a field near you

enjoy, red neck venison eaters! ;-P

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&articleID=00028CB6-F60A-1EBB-B DC0809EC588EEDF

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Been there done that. (4.00 / 1) (#35)
by Dr Caleb on Wed May 21, 2003 at 06:45:06 PM EST

about a year and a half ago. Other side of the province (~800 km) from this cow.

Mostly contained to a few deer farms, not the general population. But I am a 'red neck deer hunter'. I hunt because they are tasty.


Vive Le Canada - For Canadians who give a shit about their country.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

spongiform encephalopathy is fun! ;-P (5.00 / 2) (#39)
by circletimessquare on Wed May 21, 2003 at 07:08:10 PM EST

check this out for real scary:

http://www.xviral.co.uk/disease/kuru.htm

In the meantime, two anthropologists realised what Gajdusek had failed to spot: Kuru was inextricably and statisticaly linked to cannibalism. Among the Fore, cannibalism is not a routine matter, but an important part of funeral ritual. The body had to be left to putrefy, and was then boiled. The parts were all consumed, with a strict division of the parts to various relatives. An important point: the diners were usually only adult women; men declined the offerings. At last: Kuru was caused by a virus-like organism conveyed by mouth from dead person to live person. But wait: the meat was not eaten raw, surely the cooking process would destroy the virus-like agent? Not so. In the highlands where the Fore lived, water boiled at only 95 degrees: the meat was undercooked.

YEAH! good eats! lol ;-P

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Oddly enough (5.00 / 1) (#126)
by Legato Bluesummers on Thu May 22, 2003 at 07:50:28 PM EST

But wait: the meat was not eaten raw, surely the cooking process would destroy the virus-like agent? Not so. In the highlands where the Fore lived, water boiled at only 95 degrees: the meat was undercooked.

Water boiling at any altitude will pretty much kill most organisms. Stuff boiled at 15,000 feet is just as safe as when it is boiled at 1000 feet. Prions aren't killed by heat like viruses and most bacteria are. They are much more resistant.
--And many people have ended up looking very stupid, or dead, or both.
[ Parent ]

testing (4.33 / 3) (#40)
by the77x42 on Wed May 21, 2003 at 07:29:17 PM EST

porn stars get tested for AIDS once a month, and we don't even eat them.

I guess you could buy organic beef if you are scared of the disease (organic beef is not actually a joke).

When cattle is bred like... sheep?... you know there are going to be some issues with health. In an economy as big as my neighbours' (I'm in BC), I'm surprised that Alberta doesn't have (if they don't already) periodic tests on cattle crops.

But the real reason why this is all a problem in the first place is the lack of diverse domestication of animal species. There's only a dozen or so domesticated animals when there could be hundreds. It's imbreeding to the millionth degree.


"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

they do... (4.00 / 1) (#41)
by Run4YourLives on Wed May 21, 2003 at 07:35:23 PM EST

Alberta argueably has some of the best beef in the world. Any Canadian who travels abroad will know that the second they have foreign meat.

They can't test for Mad cow because they have to kill the cow to test for it. So the quarrenteen/destroy whole farms instead after a suspected outbreak.

Same thing happens with foot and month.

Bummer, really.


It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Lack of diversity (none / 0) (#58)
by Meatbomb on Wed May 21, 2003 at 11:49:58 PM EST

But the real reason why this is all a problem in the first place is the lack of diverse domestication of animal species. There's only a dozen or so domesticated animals when there could be hundreds.

What to domesticate next? My votes:

-Bengal Tiger
-Bananna Slug
-Burmese Python
-Hyena
-Baboon


_______________

Good News for Liberal Democracy!

[ Parent ]

how about (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by the77x42 on Thu May 22, 2003 at 02:05:52 AM EST

blue whales...? that'd be enough food for my family.


"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

[ Parent ]
Yes, but... (none / 0) (#79)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Thu May 22, 2003 at 07:54:57 AM EST

Other porn stars eat them. Besides, you never know when you might get lucky...

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
Beef (none / 0) (#91)
by Agent1 on Thu May 22, 2003 at 09:49:57 AM EST

How exactly does it matter that something is "organic" with regards to whether or not it has a disease?


-Agent1
"Thats the whole point of the internet, to slander people anonymously." - Anonymous
[ Parent ]
... it's what's rotting in your colon. (5.00 / 2) (#103)
by Pihkal on Thu May 22, 2003 at 11:34:04 AM EST

Presumably the idea behind organic beef involves no recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), no huge heapings of antibiotics, and most important in regards to BSE, feeding cows only grass, instead of the rendered up bits of other animals. This should greatly cut down on BSE. Hence, organic beef is less likely to contain BSE. The existence of BSE is largely due to industrial agriculture practices started only in the past 60 years. A complete ban on the feeding of animals to herbivorous livestock would drastically reduce the TSEs.

"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered!"
-- Number 6
[ Parent ]
heh heh (none / 0) (#175)
by livus on Sun Jun 01, 2003 at 03:23:13 AM EST

"porn stars get tested for AIDS once a month, and we don't even eat them."

No, but theyre made to eat each other, just like the cows were.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

MOOOOOOOOOOOOO! [nt] (2.00 / 2) (#51)
by Stick on Wed May 21, 2003 at 10:33:05 PM EST




---
Stick, thine posts bring light to mine eyes, tingles to my loins. Yea, each moment I sit, my monitor before me, waiting, yearning, needing your prose to make the moment complete. - Joh3n
Mad Cows Disease (1.88 / 9) (#53)
by jann on Wed May 21, 2003 at 10:55:50 PM EST

Is a very big problem. And very wide spread ... more wide spread than most people think. When you analyse the statistical information there are a number of concerning trends that emerge. The most notable is that:

MAD COWS DISEASE is actually common ... Although you do not hear about THAT in the media. Because the media is biased and based around hidden political agendas.

Simple statistical analaysis for the K5 crowd.

Look at the girls you have dated ... do most of them meet the description of "mad cows"? ... yes. Were they like this in primary school? ... no ... therefore it is something which has developed ... Most Women Over The Age Of 14 are MAD COWS!!! ... and it is a DISEASE.

Therefore MAD COWS DISEASE is COMMON and PREVALENT and present in a WOMAN NEAR YOU.

J

Uhh.. (5.00 / 2) (#86)
by purephase on Thu May 22, 2003 at 09:21:35 AM EST

:scratching head:

:door open:

:door close:

:sound of running feet:


[ Parent ]
Of course mad cow is blown out of proportion (3.85 / 7) (#56)
by godix on Wed May 21, 2003 at 11:28:36 PM EST

So was Alar. And SARS. And Mad Cow (the first time around). And breast implants. And gulf war syndrome. And the anthrax scare. And terrorism. And three mile island. And global warming. And a whole host of other things. The sky is always falling in newsland, and gullible people are always buying it. Theres nothing new or interesting about this time around, it's jsut the same old same old.


"A disobedient dog is almost as bad as a disobedient girlfriend or wife."
- A Proud American
Hysteria is sometimes beneficial (none / 0) (#104)
by dachshund on Thu May 22, 2003 at 11:45:26 AM EST

Of course mad cow is blown out of proportion ... And SARS.

Of course, many of those diseases were controlled precisely because the media made a big deal out of them. SARS is a great example-- it's not controlled because it's a harmless little bug, it's controlled because a lot of people took extreme precautions to prevent it from spreading too far. From what I can tell, China only decided to cooperate with international health authorities when it became a well-publicized problem affecting their economy.

Take AIDS as a counterexample, where too many people ignored the problem for way too long (and still do, in some parts of the world.)

It's unclear what would have happened to the British if mad cow been ignored or swept under the rug like so many other aspects of the cattle industry. The problem could have gotten a whole lot worse.

[ Parent ]

My Vegetarian Friend would say (5.00 / 1) (#57)
by gauntlet on Wed May 21, 2003 at 11:44:13 PM EST

Don't not eat beef because you might get a brain desease; don't eat beef because a cow doesn't feed as many people as the feed that fed it would.

Holds particularly well now that we know there's no brains in hot dogs. Right? Right?

Into Canadian Politics?

... Except it's not true. (none / 0) (#68)
by gordonjcp on Thu May 22, 2003 at 03:47:39 AM EST

In England (where pretty much all the cases of BSE were - the couple of cases in Scotland were from cows bought in from England), damn near all the people who died of vCJD had a history of related illness in their families (for example Huntington's Disease).
Furthermore, I'd really love someone to explain how "a cow can't feed as many people as the feed that fed it can". I know that in the US you feed cows on grain (which is just plain wrong - cows don't eat grain, they can't digest it). If you want to eat heather and tough scrubby moorland grass, go right ahead. I think I'll just continue to eat cows and sheep.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Don't eat grain? (5.00 / 1) (#69)
by ti dave on Thu May 22, 2003 at 04:15:45 AM EST

Can't digest it?

Grass may be healthier for them, but they won't starve on a diet of grain.

I'd like to put a bullet in your head, Ti_Dave. ~DominantParadigm
[ Parent ]

Well, *survive*, yes. (none / 0) (#70)
by gordonjcp on Thu May 22, 2003 at 04:23:04 AM EST

But only in the way you'd survive eating only grass. Ruminants aren't great at eating huge amounts of starchy high-energy stuff like that.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
No. (none / 0) (#71)
by ti dave on Thu May 22, 2003 at 04:43:38 AM EST

If I ate a grass-only diet, I'd fetch a poor price at the Butcher's.

Grain-fed cattle are quite marketable, though less desireable than their grass-fed counterparts.

I'd like to put a bullet in your head, Ti_Dave. ~DominantParadigm
[ Parent ]

Not only that, (none / 0) (#93)
by Dr Caleb on Thu May 22, 2003 at 10:21:34 AM EST

I'd fetch a poor price at the Butcher's.

but your pelt would still be useless. :-)


Baroque: [Bar-oak] (adj.) (s.) ; What you are when you have no Monet.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

I think his argument is (5.00 / 2) (#101)
by gauntlet on Thu May 22, 2003 at 11:24:03 AM EST

if you consider the land space used for growing whatever it is you feed the cows, that land space could be used to feed more people than are fed by the cows it feeds.

Why do all these goddamed sentences end up sounding so friggin' stupid?

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

Ok... (none / 0) (#102)
by gordonjcp on Thu May 22, 2003 at 11:31:47 AM EST

But in most parts of the world cows (and sheep) eat grass. The grass grows where you can't grow anything else. Huge amounts of the north of Scotland is covered in tough grass and heather, and sheep are about the only things that can eat it. Would you rather eat the sheep, or the grass?

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Beef and grain (5.00 / 1) (#107)
by epepke on Thu May 22, 2003 at 12:20:28 PM EST

I know that in the US you feed cows on grain (which is just plain wrong - cows don't eat grain, they can't digest it).

Most cattle in the U.S. are fed for most of their lives on grass, with some supplements of dried grass like alfalfa hay. Then they are either slaughtered and sold as grass-fed beef, or they are "fed out" for a few weeks. Technically, "feeding out" is on grain, but it's usually tailings from brewing, grain that has already been malted, crushed, mashed, and sparged to make the wort for beer. This has a decent amount of maltose, remaining from the saccharification process, and also a fair amount of free protein. In a sense, it's been pre-digested by the enzymes, and although most of the goodies are removed to make beer, some remain. I don't know that it does a lot to help the cattle grow, but it does improve the flavor.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
It pays to fatten the cattle on grain (none / 0) (#116)
by Ford Prefect on Thu May 22, 2003 at 04:15:58 PM EST

I don't know that it does a lot to help the cattle grow, but it does improve the flavor.

It does a lot to help the cattle grow fat, and fat (in the proper amount) is desirable when it comes time to grade the carcass.

A young steer carcass with little fat will probably (In the US) be graded as Select, whereas a fatter steer with more intramuscular marbling and more fat around the ribs might be graded Choice or even Prime, with the higher grades bringing considerably more $ to the seller.

[ Parent ]

Yes, marbling [n/t] (none / 0) (#119)
by epepke on Thu May 22, 2003 at 04:57:40 PM EST


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
We use that too (none / 0) (#166)
by gordonjcp on Tue May 27, 2003 at 05:05:08 AM EST

Except over here we call it "draff". We usually mix it with sugar beet shreds and feed it with hay or straw over the winter when there's bugger all else to eat. Sheep eat it too, but it's easier and cheaper to feed them turnips (which they will actually dig out of the ground if they get into the turnip field). They don't really grow on it, but that could be due to the cold weather. In spring the sheep make lots of milk on it, so we have to feed it very sparingly otherwise really bad stuff happens to their udders.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
"Draff." I like it. (5.00 / 1) (#167)
by epepke on Tue May 27, 2003 at 01:20:15 PM EST

One of the many satisfying properties of brewing is that you get to use so many obscure single-syllable Saxon words. I think it was the late, great Dave Line who said, "what other hobby lets you sparge your wort?"


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Your vegetarian friend (1.00 / 5) (#75)
by starsky on Thu May 22, 2003 at 06:47:57 AM EST

would also stink, fart constantly, have a palid complexion and be really unpopular when invited to or hosting dinner parties or restaurants. Furthermore, many people would want to punch them in their face for their endless 'yadda yadda yadda' on what WE should eat.

Vegetarians: You eat what you fucking want and we'll do fucking likewise - just don't waste the 3 calories you get from your food a day telling us about it cos we don't fucking care.

Also, vegetarians, if eating veg only is so much healthier please explain why the majority or mammals on earth have evolved to be meat-eaters. Cheers.

[ Parent ]

It sounds to me like... (5.00 / 1) (#88)
by purephase on Thu May 22, 2003 at 09:31:52 AM EST

.. you've never actually met a vegetarian, or that this opinion is based solely on one unfortunate encounter.

I happen to be vegan and I meet none of your "criteria" inasmuch as I don't preach, happen to have frequent potluck get-togethers (which are usually a rousing success) and people can actually stand to be near me.

There is also ample evidence that a non-meat diet is healthier for you. But I happen to believe that moderation is usually the key (and what types of meat people eat) rather than the tired old meat vs. veg argument.

Please don't generalize, it's bad for your health.

[ Parent ]
Sounds to Me... (5.00 / 1) (#138)
by Bios_Hakr on Fri May 23, 2003 at 01:07:58 AM EST

Like Starsky was either trolling, which is quite likely based on his past comments, or just frustrated by the holier-than-thou attitude most (of the vocal) Vegans share.

I don't think meat is healthier than veggies.  I don't think that vegans are somehow in better or worse physical condition than meat eaters.  What pisses me off is the "you shouldn't eat that" attitude.

I like eating animals.  I don't care that they suffer.  I don't care how they were raised.  I just know that meat tastes good.  I like it grilled, fried, broiled, baked, and sometimes, raw.  I also enjoy vegetables.  Preferable covered with butter and cheese, but I have been known to chow down on raw veggie platters from time to time.

I think it's great that you like veggies.  I bet you like them in all kinds of different combinations.  I bet they taste DAMN good.  In fact, an uncle of mine made a veggie casserole once that was to die for.

I guess my point is this:  If I want to eat sharkfin soup and whale sushi while riding in my SUV, that's my buisness.  If I want to smoke a bowl in my bong and look at 50+ porn, that's my buisness.  If you try to say that I am somehow being "bad", then we have a problem.


[ Parent ]

I'd say to your vegetarian pal (none / 0) (#82)
by it certainly is on Thu May 22, 2003 at 08:31:20 AM EST

for every animal you don't eat, I'm going to eat three.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Solution: Eat beef (none / 0) (#106)
by Barnaby James on Thu May 22, 2003 at 12:09:27 PM EST

Don't not eat beef because you might get a brain desease; don't eat beef because a cow doesn't feed as many people as the feed that fed it would. Sounds like your "friend" has a problem with cows chewing up the grazing land. Well there's an easy solution to that -- just eat more cows and then there will be more grazing land :-)

[ Parent ]
Cows are bred, not hunted (none / 0) (#128)
by splitpeasoup on Thu May 22, 2003 at 08:40:47 PM EST

I understand you're joking, but even as a joke it's rather pointless. Cows are bred, not hunted; consequently the more people eat them, the more they will be bred, and the more of them there will be.

-SPS

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi
[ Parent ]

For fear and fun.. (4.42 / 7) (#59)
by Kwil on Thu May 22, 2003 at 12:38:21 AM EST

..check out the Canadian Food Inspecation Agency's FAQ on CWD in deer and elk at this link: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/anima/heasan/disemala/cwdmdc/cwdmdce.shtml

Specifically note their answer to the "How is it transmitted question?"

"It is not certain how CWD is transmitted, but based on experience with the disease in captive deer species in facilities in the states of Colorado and Wyoming, both lateral (animal to animal) and maternal (mother to offspring) transmission may be possible."

Or in other words.. we're not sure, but it seems to move between animals.
Rather more alarming is when they go on to say "In addition, the elk and mule deer placed in paddocks that had housed infected cervids for many years, became infected, even though there were no other cervids on the premises, leading to the assumption that the environment of a facility could transmit the disease."

Or in other words, whatever it is sticks around for a while, even if no infected animals are around.

Even more fun: Adaptation and Selection of Prion Protein Strain... J.C. Bartz et al, Journal of Virology, June, 2000, pp. 5542-7. It's a report on some experimental evidence that shows TSE actually can adapt to a new species over successive generations. It was done using Mink TSE to hamsters. The first generation of hamsters actually outlived the disease. The second, not so much. The third even less so.

So hey, did the grandparents or parents get Alzheimer's, or did they get what we only thought was Alzheimer's?

Should we be worried?

Truthfully?

Probably not.
It's probably too late already.

Enjoy what you have left, folks. :-)

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


Your Logic Is Faulty (none / 0) (#120)
by Matrix on Thu May 22, 2003 at 05:04:47 PM EST

Yes, it can move between and reinfect similar animals environmentally. We already knew this. However, real species-jumping only seems to occur with consumption of the brains or nervous system, something that was common only for a very short time and has since been discontinued in most civilized nations. If the virus is only present in the brains/nervous system, why would consumption of any of the other tissue spread it?

As for your point about Alzhimers, that's blatant fear-mongering. Yes, they got Alzhimers. We know they got Alzhimers, because we looked. Totally different symptoms. Sure, they're brain diseases, but that's like saying SARS and chicken pox are related because they're both caused by viruses.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Not a virus (none / 0) (#127)
by Legato Bluesummers on Thu May 22, 2003 at 08:07:01 PM EST

If the virus is only present in the brains/nervous system, why would consumption of any of the other tissue spread it?

It's not a virus, actually. It's a completely different form of quasi-life called a prion. Infectious prions are proteins without DNA or RNA.
--And many people have ended up looking very stupid, or dead, or both.
[ Parent ]

You tell me.. (none / 0) (#132)
by Kwil on Thu May 22, 2003 at 09:21:17 PM EST

If the virus prion is only present in the brains/nervous system, why would consumption of any of the other tissue spread it?

..because if it can't, please explain the 100+ cases up in the UK. Or are you saying every one of them ate brain/nervous system tissue?

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
Yes (none / 0) (#133)
by Matrix on Thu May 22, 2003 at 09:29:20 PM EST

Read the article. Nervous system tissue used to be used in sausages by the Brits.

For your education: The British used nervous system parts in products like sausages before a ban was put in place. They are not commonly eaten in Canada, even in hot dogs, according to the Canadian Cattle Commission.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Food Chain (none / 0) (#134)
by djotto on Thu May 22, 2003 at 09:35:32 PM EST

If the virus prion is only present in the brains/nervous system, why would consumption of any of the other tissue spread it?

..because if it can't, please explain the 100+ cases up in the UK. Or are you saying every one of them ate brain/nervous system tissue?

Probably. You've got to remember what the conditions in slaughter houses are like. They're production lines with the emphasis on throughput, and the nervous system runs throughout the body. Even with best-practice, it's not too hard for comtaminated material to slip into the human foodchain.

And that's before we get to reclaimed meat... anything could be in there.



[ Parent ]
Your Basil is Fawlty (none / 0) (#150)
by Pihkal on Fri May 23, 2003 at 03:15:10 PM EST

"and has been discontinued in most civilized nations" - If you live in the US, I suggest you look up how rendering of sick and downed livestock works. What is forbidden in America is only the feeding of ruminants to other ruminants. It is still permissible to feed other animals, like mink (which might have TME) to cattle.

I think your key misunderstanding is the assumption that "real" cross-species infection only occurs through consumption of infected nervous tissue, rather than just ingestion of the prions in general. There is no reason to believe that there is anything special about nervous tissue except that it holds a higher concentration of the prions. We already know the cross-species barrier is tough, but not impossible, to cross. If as you admit, environmental infection vectors exist, then there is the possibility of infection of other species by that route, even if it's less likely. Your typical cow ingests around a pound of soil while grazing, mind you.

Also, we don't know how absent the prions really are from other tissues. Remember, the prions themselves are extremely difficult to detect. They provoke no immune response, and have the same spectrograph as the normal version of the prion protein. The only thing different is the structure, sort of like the difference between a right- and a left-handed molecule. Furthermore, nerve tissue pervades the entire body. Removing it is impractical, so there is always some nervous tissue being rendered.

As for Alzheimer's, there are already three studies that found between 3% and 13% of Alzheimer's in the patients studied was actually misdiagnosed CJD. Please see my other comments for links and more details.

"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered!"
-- Number 6
[ Parent ]

My Basil is Sybil. (none / 0) (#153)
by Matrix on Fri May 23, 2003 at 03:57:24 PM EST

Note the "civilized nations" bit. I thought that already excluded the US. ;) FYI, I live in Canada, thus my interest in this story.

Note that Riptalon's post points out a number of medical uncertainties involved in the disease diagnosis and analysis so far. I think the only real statement that can be made about prions is that they seem to case BSE-like and CJD-like symptoms, but we've no clue how they get produced or propagated, or why there's no immune system response to them, or even if they're actually responsible for BSE/CJD/TME/etc. If they get propagated this easily, then why isn't there some kind of immune response? Or why haven't the vulnerable species-branches (it does seem that genetic markers are needed to be vulnerable to them) been killed off already? Scapie (the sheep version) has been around in Iceland for, what, centuries? Yet they don't seem to be facing imminent sheep-depletion or mass deaths from vCJD.

Also, note that not all CJD is BSE-related. That's only vCJD, with regular CJD occuring naturally in humans as a result of a (very rare) mutation. The two seem to be different, or differentiatable, as every report I've seen has the numbers for each reported differently.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

My president adds extra Sybilables to words (none / 0) (#159)
by Pihkal on Sat May 24, 2003 at 07:13:54 PM EST

Good comment. You are very right that there is a tremendous number of unknowns in the TSEs. Indeed, were more known, we probably wouldn't be arguing over it as much. A few things, though:

My understanding of the lack of immune response is that since the immune system primarily evolved to deal with bacteria, viruses and fungi, something structured as a protein just doesn't set off any alarms, hence no immune response. Ease of propagation between organisms doesn't have anything to with immune response. And for intraorganism propagation, it's been clear ever since we started studying scrapie decades ago that there is no immune response. Considering the evidence, some novel sort of infectious agent seems more likely than some super-stealth virus. Even if it's not the prions themselves, it's something pretty damned mysterious and unusual.

As for the vulnerable species branches, they would not be wiped out for several reasons. For starters, I don't think it's known whether changes at codon 171 of the PrP gene create susceptibility to scrapie as you imply, or just lower resistance to it. Immunity is not yet an established fact. Most cases of TSEs (including scrapie) are very slow, and only affect organisms that are in, or past, their reproductive years. Unless a disease kills before an animal has a chance to reproduce, it will not have a substantial effect on the overall population. The typical life span of a sheep is 8-13 years. The age at which a sheep reaches reproductive maturity is around 18 months. The typical age at which sheep show signs of scrapie is 2-5 years, with death usually occurring in under 6 months afterwards. (Some cases of scrapie have been seen to take as long as 8 years.) While scrapie in natural sheep populations (is there such a thing?) might lower the average life span, it would not kill them off.

You are correct about the CJD/nvCJD distinction. I was mistaken to have mentioned the studies involved, thinking that those were nvCJD instead of regular CJD. Doh! In my post facto defense, though, there's a lot of speculation and research going on as to how, or even if, CJD and nvCJD are different. Unlike what you said, CJD is not entirely due to a genetic mutation. Around 85% of CJD cases have no currently known cause. Unfortunately, not enough is known to say for sure how/if they are different. They have some differences, but the differences may just be due to differing expressive factors on the same disease.

"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered!"
-- Number 6
[ Parent ]

My Prime Minister has a Speech Impediment (none / 0) (#160)
by Matrix on Sun May 25, 2003 at 12:06:35 PM EST

Right. However, there is also no evidence that prions themselves are infectious agents. Nor that prion-infected meat is infectious. And it seems like there's some kind of resistance - after all, Britain had been following the bad practices that lead to the outbreak for years, and yet they only had a handful of vCJD cases in humans and BSE cases in cows.

What I was trying to say was that, if this is a serious as Kwil was claiming, we'd already be seeing more evidence of it. Especially if prions themselves could spread, given how long these dangerous practices have been going on for. As-is, we're not. This seems to point to some other infectious agent or cause. IE, a mutation, or an environmental factor.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

My Pres can't identify your Pres on talk shows :) (none / 0) (#162)
by Pihkal on Sun May 25, 2003 at 07:20:46 PM EST

I think you're misinterpreting the data. To me, the evidence seems to favor the prions as the infectious agents, novel as they may be, as noone has yet come up with a better theory. I also think that delayed onset is what we are seeing not resistance. While it is true that western nations only 60 years ago started following the agricultural practices that allowed BSE to flourish, there's no reason BSE should have appeared instantly, even though they were being fed sheep potentially infected with scrapie. We already knew the cross-species barrier was tough to cross, if that's what you're referring to by resistance. Finally, due to inept legislative oversight and the scientific difficulty of detecting BSE, the number of cases is probably underreported, especially in America.

Frankly, I think the number of cases will peak in the next twenty years due to the long incubation times, but will probably never reach a really threatening level thanks to the difficulty of cross-species infection. I'm not sure what you think the infection rates should be, but given that the incubation period in humans could be 2 or 3 decades, and that Mad Cow was only noticed in the 80's and serious eradication efforts didn't begin until the 90's, I think there's still time to see more evidence. But I personally think we'll only see cases in tens of thousands and not much more. In short, I think it will get worse, but not that much worse.

I looked at Mark Purdey's website, where he expounds on his Manganese/Copper/Organophospates theory. It certainly seems interesting. If true, then that would mean that the worst is over, which would be good news. Hopefully, time will tell, as the jury is still out.

"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered!"
-- Number 6
[ Parent ]

My PM is Jean Poutine! (none / 0) (#163)
by Matrix on Sun May 25, 2003 at 08:21:20 PM EST

See this comment for a good analysis of the preventative measures involved. That's the kind of stuff I was talking about. Apparently, the 60% without the gene is immune, not just resistant, as the chemicals/cells the prions react negatively with just aren't there. And there seem to be other "defenses" too, that gobble down good and bad protiens alike in the process of natural digestion. Unless the prions just don't react with these, which seems unlikely given the small (but dangerous) differences between them and normal protiens.

In fact, that comment seems to make the environmental factor more likely. (Based on my limited understanding) Something that suppresses the usual countermeasures, or bypasses them, or (assuming (v)CJD is unrelated to BSE) produces the prions.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

I drink Presidente from the Dominican Republic (none / 0) (#164)
by Pihkal on Mon May 26, 2003 at 02:10:53 AM EST

An interesting comment, one that certainly outlines the difficulties of infection, and explains why the total number of cases is not likely to get too high, despite the media attention lavished on BSE. I disagree with the statement about 60% of the (European) populace being immune though. While several researchers have noted that all of the existing cases of nvCJD have methionine at position 129, they do not consider lack of it to be a sure sign of immunity. Again, given the timelines involved, it may just be that those without methionine at position 129 just develop the disease slower than those without. At least in the case of kuru, it is known that those without methionine just have a longer incubation period, rather than being totally immune.

If you're really interested on the latest about the environmental factor possibility, try contacting Dr. David Brown at the University of Bath in England. I know he's been researching it.

"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered!"
-- Number 6
[ Parent ]

Who likes garbage anyways? (4.00 / 1) (#62)
by antispamist on Thu May 22, 2003 at 01:39:49 AM EST

"they also banned the importation of Torontonian garbage for a short time".

Who the hell is out there buying garbage from Canada (no offense, I don't want anyone's garbage.)?

As far as the article goes...different stick same dead cow.

A useless endevor that will certainly leave u wanting less but getting more.
One of Canada's more shameful activities (none / 0) (#72)
by Kwil on Thu May 22, 2003 at 05:13:32 AM EST

You're not actually buying our garbage, you're selling us the space to dump it.

You see, some companies in Ontario have found that certain states have less stringent laws about certain types of garbage materials. So they're avoiding having to create better waste control methods simply by paying some people over in the states to take if off their hands.

Unfortunately, the double edged sword of NAFTA is rearing its ugly head here and preventing the US from banning the importation of foreign garbage. Lovely, hm?

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
Double Edged indeed. (none / 0) (#87)
by rumor on Thu May 22, 2003 at 09:22:29 AM EST

Northern US states also sell great amounts of garbage to eastern and western provinces for dumping, processing, combusting, and so on. Including hazardous waste. Garbage selling and shipping is a big business, and we all do it.

-- Rumor

[ Parent ]
Not a shameful activity (2.00 / 1) (#118)
by DodgyGeezer on Thu May 22, 2003 at 04:38:41 PM EST

Why blame Canada for this practise?  The real problem are with the American legislatures and greedy businessmen.  If companies and municipalities in places like Michigan didn't offer the service, Toronto would have no choice but pay the extra and do it properly.

Anyway, before getting your knickers in a twist about Toronto's household rubbish, perhaps we should first concentrate on the toxic waste that get shipped north across the border.  That to me is a much bigger problem.  In 2001, Michigan shipped 53,000 tons of hazardous waste to Canada, whilst only 4,000 tons went in the opposite direction.  I would rather have the household garbage than the toxic stuff.

Whilst we're on the topic of shipping waste to other countries, how about we talk about all the pollution that drifts from the States up to Canada.  Rural SW Ontario has worse air than downtown Toronto thanks to the poor air that drifts up from the Ohio valley.  That stuff's not even contained like garbage at a landfill site - we all have to breathe that in.  Perhap States like Ohio shouldn't build their chimneys so tall?

[ Parent ]

I'm Canadian.. (5.00 / 1) (#121)
by Kwil on Thu May 22, 2003 at 05:06:05 PM EST

..so I can't do squat about American practices, really.

But I can bitch and moan about our own, even if they are "less bad" than those of our neighbours.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
why, theyre not their brothers keepers n/t (none / 0) (#176)
by livus on Sun Jun 01, 2003 at 03:23:51 AM EST



---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
for real spongiform encephalopathy fun (2.50 / 2) (#66)
by circletimessquare on Thu May 22, 2003 at 02:52:44 AM EST

try kuru! ;-)

http://www.emedicine.com/med/topic1248.htm

Kuru was spread by the endocannibalistic funeral practices of the Fore. Family members were ritualistically cooked and eaten following their death, with the closest female relatives and children usually consuming the brain, which was the most infectious organ. The women scooped the brain tissue out with their bare hands and did not subsequently wash them for weeks. During this time they were handling, caring for, and possibly infecting their young children.

YEAH!!!! TASTES LIKE CHICKEN!!! ;-P

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

have you tried it? (none / 0) (#85)
by deniz on Thu May 22, 2003 at 09:05:27 AM EST

YEAH!!!! TASTES LIKE CHICKEN!!! ;-P

Erm, brain tastes nothing like chicken. At least, fish, sheep, and goat brain taste nothing like chicken. I'm making a wild leap that human brain tastes awfully like the other varieties I've just mentioned which I have eaten often.

The taste of brain is very mild, I often pay more attention to the texture as that is much more obvious than the taste.

[ Parent ]

good lord (none / 0) (#135)
by circletimessquare on Thu May 22, 2003 at 10:47:21 PM EST

have you tried human anything? you're so yesterday's trends in carnivorousness... get with program and jump on the cannibalism bandwagon, it's what's for dinner! ;-P

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Vegetarians! (5.00 / 1) (#145)
by Dr Caleb on Fri May 23, 2003 at 10:49:01 AM EST

It's what's for dinner!

The best part of spongiform encephalopathy infected brains is they have all that empty space that really soaks up the gravy well. Kinda like a dumpling.


Baroque: [Bar-oak] (adj.) (s.) ; What you are when you have no Monet.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

Media misinformation about BSE in the UK (4.60 / 5) (#76)
by PhadeRunner on Thu May 22, 2003 at 07:18:04 AM EST

Has the media gotten people so misinformed about last years outbreak of BSE in the U.K.

Well yes, obviously since there was no outbreak of BSE in the UK last year! In 2001 there was an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease. BSE has been all but eradicated in the UK since a selective cull of animals in 1997. There are typically only 25 suspected new cases a week now in the UK. Mainland Europe also gets its fair share of cases.

I hope this helps clear things up.



News I heard yesterday... (5.00 / 1) (#78)
by c4miles on Thu May 22, 2003 at 07:29:41 AM EST

Previously posted accidentally as editorial...

The scientific body that has been appointed to oversee and monitor vCJD in the UK has apparently concluded that infection rates have "peaked". Reading deeper, it appears that this is (somewhat) of a statistical anomaly - ie they were expecting it to continue rising, this year it hasn't but they're not sure what that implies.

 In 2000, the Wellcome Trust predicted 136,000 total cases before the effects were removed from the food chain.

 ICL (Imperial College London) predicted 7,000 total.

 It is to be hoped that this downward trend in prediction is realised.

 BTW, the linked site is also a good overview of BSE and vCJD and the risks associated.

--
"Reality is that which does not disappear when you stop believing in it" - PKD

--
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.

Blatent Plagurism (1.60 / 5) (#84)
by rdskutter on Thu May 22, 2003 at 08:58:50 AM EST

                                       /;    ;\
                                   __  \\____//
                                  /{_\_/   `'\____
                                  \___  (o)  (o  }
       _____________________________/         :--'   
   ,-,'`@@@@@@@@        @@@@@@         \_     `__\
  ;:(  @@@@@@@@@         @@@              \___(o'o)
  :: )  @@@@           @@@@@@        ,'@@(  `===='    Mooo!
  :: : @@@@@:           @@@@         `@@@:
  :: \  @@@@@:        @@@@@@@)    (  '@@@'
  ;; /\      /`,    @@@@@@@@@\    :@@@@@)
  ::/  )    {_----------------:  :~`,~~;
 ;;'`; :   )                   :  / `; ;
;;;; : :   ;                   :  ;  ; :
`'`' / :  :                    :  :  : :
    )_ \__;      ";"           :_ ;  \_\        `,','
    :__\  \    * `,'*          \  \  :  \   *   8`;'*  *
 ` ` `  `^' ` ` \ :/ ` ` ` ` `  `^'  `-^-' ` \v/ `:  \/


Get it right, Mr Skutter! (4.55 / 9) (#89)
by it certainly is on Thu May 22, 2003 at 09:40:38 AM EST

 Teh Mad Cow Disease
 doesn't affect us ducks.
              | 
              |
         (__) '
         (oo)
  /-------\/
 / |     ||
*  ||----||
   ~~    ~~


kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.

Thanks :) (5.00 / 1) (#98)
by rdskutter on Thu May 22, 2003 at 10:30:50 AM EST

Mooooooooooooo! Quack!


Yanks are like ICBMs: Good to have on your side, but dangerous to have nearby. - OzJuggler
History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.[ Parent ]

It is a problem (5.00 / 2) (#95)
by nebbish on Thu May 22, 2003 at 10:27:45 AM EST

You say -

"Q. Could mad cow disease spread here as it did in Britain?

A. Very unlikely. The disease spread in Britain through cattle feed made from ground-up ruminant bodies that were infected with mad cow. Canada no longer allows such feed."

If this is the case, how did a cow manage to catch BSE? Either cattle are eating feed with ground-up ruminants in it (just because it's illegal doesn't mean it isn't happening - law breaking in livestock feed was responsible for our recent outbreak of foot and mouth in the UK), or it can be spread in a different way.

Logically, it is impossible for one animal to be infected in isolation. This cow has become diseased somehow, and it is almost certain that others will follow, whatever the means of infection.

This should be major cause for concern - BSE was a major disaster here in the UK with unknown long-term health implications.

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee

The age of the cow (none / 0) (#99)
by HoserHead on Thu May 22, 2003 at 10:56:32 AM EST

This cow was 8 years old. The law banning feeding cattle other cattle only came in to effect a few years ago; most notably, after this cow was born.

Thus, it's possible that the cow contracted BSE before, and only now showed symptoms.

Also of note is that the estimated 8 year incubation period of BSE. It may not be a coincidence that this cow was found at the age of 8 years

[ Parent ]

This sounds bad... (5.00 / 1) (#117)
by pla on Thu May 22, 2003 at 04:31:44 PM EST

Also of note is that the estimated 8 year incubation period of BSE. It may not be a coincidence that this cow was found at the age of 8 years.

So basically, since:

A) BSE Has no non-brain-dissection test for it,
B) It takes 8 years to show symptoms,
C) Most beef comes from cows under 2 years, and
D) We only recently outlawed Cow-cannibalism...

We may well have BSE as a completely pandemic infection even in the US and Canada, and not even know it.

Glad I decided to go veggie a few years ago. ;-)


[ Parent ]
Not all that bad. (none / 0) (#122)
by Dr Caleb on Thu May 22, 2003 at 06:13:14 PM EST

A) Correct, for an animal not showing symptoms.
B) Correct.
C) Correct. Not a problem unless BSE is tranferrable from the mother (isn't 100% transferrable).
D) 6 years ago.
Not to worry, you can't get the flu from someone who doesn't have the flu. You can't get BSE or nvCJD from a cow unless you eat it's brains or nerve tissue.


Vive Le Canada - For Canadians who give a shit about their country.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

Brains/Nerves (none / 0) (#123)
by Matrix on Thu May 22, 2003 at 06:25:19 PM EST

Are you sure about the brains/nerves thing? There've been posters on this thread saying things that seem to contradict that. (at least, for similar diseases) Is this from a reputable source? Does it have a lot of evidence backing it up?


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Brains/Nerves is true, but... (none / 0) (#137)
by Parity on Fri May 23, 2003 at 12:30:23 AM EST

Remember that 'meat' is essentially muscle tissue, which is controlled by nerve connections... granted, the amount of nerve tissue found in a slab of meat is small, but it is not nonexistent, therefore it is theoretically possible to be exposed to the prions by consuming 'ordinary' meat, though the risk level is significantly lower.

I suspect the risk would also be lower because it seems to me that if the nerves in the muscle tissue were infected, the animal would show muscle-control problems, and so be eliminated as 'unhealthy', but I've seen no literature to support that idea - it's just based on my understanding of BSE.

Of course, nobody understands prions particularly well, though research is progressing at an astounding rate, and all risk analysis on a poorly understood phenomenon needs to be taken with a grain of salt, including both the parent article and this very post...

--Parity None


[ Parent ]

Not all of it... (none / 0) (#146)
by Dr Caleb on Fri May 23, 2003 at 10:58:31 AM EST

some meat does not contain the nerve tissue, such as sirloin (the only cut of meat to be knighted), the filet or tenderloin and striploin. It was also pointed out that 135 degrees is enough to break the prion protien down. Since my BBQ operates in excess of 400 degrees, I don't see a problem, assuming I am cooking an infected animal.

The only cuts which I would consider eating raw or rare would be the filet or the striploin.

As for the grandparents question about source - yes. The World Health Organization is the one doing all the research. There is also quite a bit of literature at the Canada food inspection website - inspection.gc.ca.


Vive Le Canada - For Canadians who give a shit about their country.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

Grandparents (none / 0) (#149)
by Matrix on Fri May 23, 2003 at 01:28:03 PM EST

Er... The grandparents thing was in another thread. And what do you mean by "yes"? Do you mean that there is evidence linking alzhimers to BSE, or there is no evidence? (Or evidence that there is NO link?)


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Grandparent post. (none / 0) (#151)
by Dr Caleb on Fri May 23, 2003 at 03:24:28 PM EST

Your post is the parent of this one. My post would be the grandparent post to this post.

The grandparent I was refering to is your post titled "Brains/Nerves".

Your question was "Are you sure about the brains/nerves thing?" as to whether they carry the prion for BSE. My answer was "yes". Everything I have read on the subject shows that the prions are not present in muscle tissue ie: meat, only in nerve and brain tissue.


Vive Le Canada - For Canadians who give a shit about their country.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

My Bad (4.00 / 1) (#154)
by Matrix on Fri May 23, 2003 at 04:01:58 PM EST

Sorry. I thought you were talking about Kwil's comment about alzhimers being a early-generation form of CJD which was going to wipe us all out because resistance supposedly decreases over generations.

I knew the prion was carried in brain/nerve tissue, but others had claimed that it was also carried in other tissue. IE, muscle tissue, and not just the nerves found in most muscle tissue.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Fallacy (none / 0) (#110)
by Kwil on Thu May 22, 2003 at 01:25:35 PM EST

Logically, it is impossible for one animal to be infected in isolation.

Were this the case, no animal would ever have a disease, as there always must be a "Patient 0".

There are also some theories that CJD initially stems from some sort of mutation.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
Prions and mutations (none / 0) (#139)
by Dr Seltsam on Fri May 23, 2003 at 04:36:43 AM EST

There are also some theories that CJD initially stems from some sort of mutation.

That's more than a theory. In fact, CJD and all other prion diseases occur in three different forms. There are infectious forms like kuru, which are transferred by ingesting infected material or also by blood, there are spontaneous forms (often the case with classical CJD) and there are hereditary forms, which are caused by single mutations in the prion protein gene. These mutations are well mapped, we know more than ten of them which invariably will cause the disease.
Of course, these forms are no separate diseases, so, for example, one can be infected by exposure to prions from a source with the hereditary form.And that might be the way in which the BSE epidemic developed. One cow might have suffered from a hereditary or spontaneous form of BSE, was processed to meat-and-bone meal, and the disease was spread to other cows by feeding them this MBM.
The fact that I'm paranoid does not mean that they are not after me.
[ Parent ]
Patient zero (none / 0) (#141)
by nebbish on Fri May 23, 2003 at 07:10:29 AM EST

Were this the case, no animal would ever have a disease, as there always must be a "Patient 0".

Yes, but as the disease was discovered in the UK in the mid 80s, the Canadian case isn't it. So it must have been transmitted somehow - suggesting that it can't be a one-off case.

There are also some theories that CJD initially stems from some sort of mutation.

I'd never heard that - have you got any links?

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

Cow zero (none / 0) (#169)
by noquarter on Tue May 27, 2003 at 04:05:47 PM EST

Yes, but as the disease was discovered in the UK in the mid 80s, the Canadian case isn't it. So it must have been transmitted somehow - suggesting that it can't be a one-off case. No. Just because it COULD have been transmitted doesn't mean it had to have been transmitted, or that it was transmitted.. Whatever caused the disease in the original "patient" (cow?) 0 could also have caused the disease in this Canadian cow.

Of course, having said that, its entirely possible it was transmitted...but thats not the only possibility.

[ Parent ]
Cow Zero (none / 0) (#173)
by Matrix on Wed May 28, 2003 at 07:46:11 AM EST

In fact, from what I understand about BSE and related diseases, a one-off case isn't entirely unlikely at all. There are a number of unknown environmental or genetic factors that can trigger CJD in humans and scapie in sheep. Why should BSE be any different?


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Sorry! (none / 0) (#142)
by nebbish on Fri May 23, 2003 at 07:12:58 AM EST

I asked if you had anything to back up the theory that BSE could be a mutation without reading Dr Seltsam comment.

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

It can't be 'caught'. (none / 0) (#114)
by Dr Caleb on Thu May 22, 2003 at 03:20:28 PM EST

As some other posters pointed out, BSE can be transmitted through ruminants, but as the articles I linked to pointed out; it can also be naturally ocurring. Like a cancer, it can develop in older animals.

It is unlikely that other cattle will become infected. It can only be transmitted by ingestion, and the likelyhood of that is low. The transmission possibilities are being limited.

Any herds that came into contact with this animal are likely to be destroyed, as well this cow had 3 offspring. Those offspring will be traced, and the removed from the herds they are in now. If the offspring show BSE infection, then those herds will be culled as well.

Look at the outbreak in the UK - about 3,000,000 animals were fed ruminants, about 186,000 developed BSE and transmitted it to about 100 humans through their offal. Very low odds of getting it, even if you are exposed.

Since this animal never made it to the human side of the food chain, I'd be more worried about my cat getting it. As the brain was kept for examination, I'm not too worried about my cat.

And "(just because it's illegal doesn't mean it isn't happening)" I think is way off base. Cattle Ranchers are proud of their work. The ones I know would never intentionally harm anyone. If they are told they can't feed ruminants to their cattle and why, I believe they would do the right thing and stop. In the UK perhaps this was a result of the farmers not trusting the advice of the government, I don't know.

Remember, foot-and-mouth is tranmitted physically - much easier to transmit. You have to go out of your way to get BSE or nvJCD.


Vive Le Canada - For Canadians who give a shit about their country.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

Uk Farmers (4.00 / 1) (#143)
by nebbish on Fri May 23, 2003 at 07:29:49 AM EST

And "(just because it's illegal doesn't mean it isn't happening)" I think is way off base. Cattle Ranchers are proud of their work. The ones I know would never intentionally harm anyone. If they are told they can't feed ruminants to their cattle and why, I believe they would do the right thing and stop. In the UK perhaps this was a result of the farmers not trusting the advice of the government, I don't know.

It was a case of them cutting corners to maximise profits. I can accept that things might be different in Canada though.

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

Canadian farmers... (none / 0) (#168)
by noquarter on Tue May 27, 2003 at 03:57:34 PM EST

I live in Calgary, Alberta, and have for the last twenty years. Nobody wants a mad cow disease outbreak here. Cattle farming is just too large a part of our economy (and as an urbanite, it pains me to admit that). I'd suggest that rather than our farmers being too "honest" to disobey the government (not that farmers are dishonest, but there's always a few assholes), another strong incentive is that farmers here have seen what an outbreak of mad cow disease can do.

It's like those signs at the train station that warn you to stand back from the yellow line as the train pulls in. You know why the signs are there, and why standing back from the line is a good idea, but the thought of actually getting hit by a train is still just a concept in your head, and maybe you don't pay so much attention to the signs.

Then one day you actually witness someone get hit by that train...you're probably going to stand WELL back from that yellow line from now on.

[ Parent ]
The problem in the UK (none / 0) (#171)
by nebbish on Tue May 27, 2003 at 08:51:59 PM EST

Farming in the UK has reached a crisis point where many farmers are going out of business, not just because of the BSE and foot and mouth epidemics, but also because they can no longer compete in the world market. Most money generated in the rural economy in the UK now comes from tourism. Farmers are heavily reliant on EU subsidies.

This might be the root of the problem in the UK - farmers are struggling, in a minority and are facing the death of their industry. It is a serious problem that is very difficult for a government to tackle. It's not surprising that corners have been cut, resentment has grown between urban and rural communities, and health and safety laws have been broken.

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

What hysteria? (4.00 / 2) (#97)
by EiZei on Thu May 22, 2003 at 10:30:03 AM EST

Oddly enough nobody really cared when they found a single BSE case in Finland, at least I didn't see anybody avoiding cow meat.

So there's these two British cows (none / 0) (#108)
by gbd on Thu May 22, 2003 at 12:37:18 PM EST

So there's these two British cows sunning themselves in the meadow on a warm summer day. The first cow says "So what do you think about this 'mad cow disease?'"

"I don't know, and I don't bloody care," replies the other. "I'm a helicopter."

[ seen in rec.humor.funny ]

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.

I thought the cow said "woof" (none / 0) (#129)
by melia on Thu May 22, 2003 at 08:54:38 PM EST


Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong
[ Parent ]
Alternative (5.00 / 1) (#140)
by jonathan_ingram on Fri May 23, 2003 at 05:34:33 AM EST

So there's these two British cows sunning themselves in the meadow on a warm summer day. The first cow says "So what do you think about this 'mad cow disease?'"

The second says "Fuck me -- a talking cow!"

-- Jon
[ Parent ]

Third variant of same joke in this thread (none / 0) (#158)
by Rk on Sat May 24, 2003 at 03:25:28 PM EST

Why can't we mod posts on K5 as 'redundant'?

[ Parent ]
Out of Proportion? (5.00 / 2) (#109)
by watchmaker on Thu May 22, 2003 at 12:38:11 PM EST

Does the reaction support the risk? Perhaps not. It's obvious this one cow was pulled out of the food chain, and it's believed that BSE can't be transmitted from cow to cow (or cow to human) unless the body of the animal is used for food.

Any reaction you may have to that sort of risk is all well and good, but largely irrelevant. Unless, of course, you've watched someone die of CJD. I have.

A very close friend of the family, mid 50s, three kids, well respected executive at a large financial concern, became ill one spring about four or five years ago. On a business trip he woke in the morning, and called the office to ask a question. It was then that he noticed that he had no control over language. The thoughts, he would later painfully describe in writing, were leaving his brain just fine, but what arrived at his mouth was babbling gibberish.

A massive battery of tests proved inconclusive. His condition worsened, to include blackouts and loss of muscle control. Within four months, he was dead, having spent the last six weeks of his life sedated for his own protection. He had become violent and incoherent, convulsively battling whatever demons he was projecting into the world around him.

Normally writing comments to K5 about personal items is something I do without much second thought. Typing this has brought back the feelings of helplessness, fear, and sadness. I can't begin to describe to you how incredibly horiffic it is to watch this deterioration.

Shortly before he was finally sedated, in one of his last periods of relative clarity, doctors at the Mayo clinic had diagnosed him with CJD, a fact which was verified later in an autopsy. There are very few cases of CJD in the US, thankfully.

I have been intentionally vague in certain details of this account to protect the identity of the family. They requested that they not become poster children for the media swarm that would have been inevitable.

So, is a case of BSE, which presents an infinitessimally small risk to the human population, being blown out of proportion? No, it isn't. If the risk is greater than zero, the results are so horiffic that there must be reaction.



Find a balance (4.50 / 2) (#112)
by p3d0 on Thu May 22, 2003 at 02:14:42 PM EST

If the risk is greater than zero, the results are so horiffic that there must be reaction.
That's easy to say, but the risk is always greater than zero, so I disagree.

Have you ever seen an honest, hard-working person's livlihood threatened by mass hysteria? It's no CJD, but it's a pretty terrible thing, and I think we need to find a balance.

As with anything else of this nature, if the risk of inaction outweighs the risk of action, then you do it. Whether that's the case here is another question.
--
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]

There's a difference.. (none / 0) (#156)
by Chubs on Sat May 24, 2003 at 01:14:30 AM EST

Yes, the degree of risk is always greater than zero - but the known/unknown aspect of this is what makes it different.

Let me put it in another context. Say you go to a professional football game. The risk is greater than zero that some nut will sneak a gun past security and kill you. Yet, you'd probably still go to the game - and you probalby wouldn't be classified as an idiot for going.

Now, assume you know for certain that one person has gotten a gun past security and is likely to kill someone. That puts the risk, in a different context and you'd have to be a complete moron to go.

Knowing that at least one cow had the deadly disease, and not knowing for sure how it's transmitted or if diseased flesh has made it's way into other food streams, puts the risk of tainted meat into a different context as well - and it desrves all the attention it's getting.


[ Parent ]

That's just a matter of degree (none / 0) (#157)
by p3d0 on Sat May 24, 2003 at 01:57:22 PM EST

Now, assume you know for certain that one person has gotten a gun past security and is likely to kill someone. That puts the risk, in a different context and you'd have to be a complete moron to go.
For a rational person, it's not a different "context". It's merely a different probability. Rather than the one-in-a-billion chance that you'll be killed by a nut at a football game, you now have a one-in-fifty-thousand chance because you know someone at that game is likely to die. That is why a rational person would avoid the football game.

Likewise, to be rational, one must look at the odds that a disaster will occur because a single cow on a single farm had a particular disease, and weigh that against the harm from overreaction. I don't know what any of these probabilities are, because I don't know the first thing about BSE, so this is where I bow out...
--
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]

Rocky Mountain Chronic Wasting Disease (4.80 / 5) (#113)
by fantods on Thu May 22, 2003 at 02:41:51 PM EST

Last year we had the Summer of Biblical Plagues here in Colorado. Wildfires burned everywhere, dumping smoke and ashes across the state. Chronic wasting disease infected wild and domestic elk and deer herds, causing hunters to avoid the state in droves. The worst drought in half a century started up water wars that had lain dormant for decades.

(And there were lots of miller moths. But that always happens.)

"Chronic wasting disease" turned out to be a transmissable spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) that jumped from a herd of sheep with scrapie to a herd of elk being kept next to them at a CSU research station back in the 1970s or 80s.

So now we have a *species-jumping* TSE that *may or may not have been transmitted by food* that *probably causes CJD in humans who eat infected elk*.

But don't worry about that cow in Canada.

Just keep eating steak. It's okay.

Uh-huh.

Nothing to worry about...

Move along...

Nothing to see here...

"Chicken. It's what's for dinner".

"Chicken. It won't turn your brain to mush."

"Chicken. At least you can sterilize the damn things by cooking them."

Heh (none / 0) (#130)
by djotto on Thu May 22, 2003 at 09:15:43 PM EST

"Chicken. It won't turn your brain to mush."

"Chicken. At least you can sterilize the damn things by cooking them."

link



[ Parent ]
Yeah (none / 0) (#147)
by zerblat on Fri May 23, 2003 at 12:15:09 PM EST

In Sweden you can by frozen chicken fillets where 30-40 % of the weight is from injected water...

Oh well, I think I'll stick to veggies.

[ Parent ]

Alternative theory (5.00 / 4) (#125)
by riptalon on Thu May 22, 2003 at 07:37:06 PM EST

It should be noted that the transmitted self replicating protein (prion) theory for the cause of Spongiform Encephalopathies is not the only one, although it is the only one that gets any attention in the media, and the prion theory is certainly far from proven. No one has managed to synthesis a prion, feed it to an animal, and induce the disease. The alternatives are based around the idea that this class of diseases may result from exposure to some enviromental factor.

This is supported by the fact that there exist clusters of these Spongiform Encephalopathy diseases, in both animals and humans, which appear too localized to be easily explained by a transmited diseases. The best common factor in all these clusters in high levels of Manganese (and low levels of Copper and Zinc) in the enviroment. This is particularly interesting since Manganese poisoning, in miners etc., results in Manganism, a degenerative brain disease and conversely many of these Spongiform Encephalopathy clusters appear to be centered on Manganese mines and steel works.

Of course if this theory turns out to be correct then new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) would likely be unrelated to BSE, in terms of a direct causal link, and all this slaughtering cattle would have been a waste of time. The alternative theory is far from proven yet but I have yet to see any strong evidense in favour of the prion theory either and so it seems mainly down to a matter of "fashion" (and quite likely politics) than the prion theory holds sway at the moment. A good introductory article to this subject can be found here.



what? (3.50 / 2) (#136)
by eyespots on Thu May 22, 2003 at 10:52:04 PM EST

There may be multiple factors that contribute to the severity of BSE, but it's pretty well established in scientific literature that the prion protein is the main cause.

Just do a search on pubmed for primary literature. For instance, search for "BSE, Prion". The evidence is pretty overwhelming.

The clusters you are talking about could indeed be exacerbated by the heavy metals you are talking about for all we know, but PrP is definitely involved.

[ Parent ]

Prions (none / 0) (#144)
by Matrix on Fri May 23, 2003 at 09:38:45 AM EST

Well, yes, and the link he provides doesn't try and disclaim that PrP is involved. What it does disclaim is that PrP is the... Not sure of the proper terminology, so I'll use causative agent. (The molecule/organism(s) that actually cause the spread of the disease) It claims that the manganese poisoning and/or heavy UV exposure are to blame.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Symptom, yes ... cause ? (4.60 / 5) (#148)
by riptalon on Fri May 23, 2003 at 01:14:25 PM EST

Nerve cells are coated with certain protiens. The internal symptoms of Spongiform Encephalopathies are these protiens being transformed into "bad" protiens that block the transmission of signals between the cells, gumming up your brain and turning you into a vegetable. The conventional theory side-steps any explanation of how the "good" protiens get turned into "bad" protiens by assuming that with each new case the "bad" protiens came from outside the body originally and just replicated themselves and spread through the brain after they where introduced.

The problem of how the "bad" protiens came into existance can then be explained away as a single chance mutation that we need not understand since it only happen once and can therefore be a highly unlikely freak occurance. However all this assumes that it is possible for these "bad" protiens, prions, to actually jump from one animal to another and also to jump between species as well. This is the part that is totally unproven to my knowledge. The prions are definitely the symptom but whether they are the cause as well is far from clear.

It is sort of like the difference between cancer and AIDS. AIDS is caused by the HIV virus jumping from person to person. The conventional theory treats Spongiform Encephalopathies like an infectous disease, but with an even simpler infectous agent than a virus, a self replicating protein. The alternative theory suggests that it is more like cancer. Some "damage" is done to the "good" proteins in your brain by some enviromental factor, turning them into the "bad" proteins that then cause the disease. While we don't understand how this would happen, it doesn't mean it isn't possible, and we don't understand how prions could jump from host to host either.

I also think there may be severe problem with the process of scientific investigation in this case. In Britain the whole thing came out in the media before way before there had been any decent research on the subject. The media whipped the whole circus up into and frenzy, and pushed the government to do something before there was any real evidense of what the cause was. After the government had started slaughtering cows they were never going to be interested in any research that didn't support their actions and since they are the major source of funding for this research the whole field is going to be biased towards getting the results government wants.

I would also point out that just because something is on pubmed does make it true. In my own field, astronomy, I could could point to many papers on NASA ADS that are utter rubbish. Medicine is also barely a science anyway. You only have to look at the case of Stomach Ulcers to see how unscientific medics can be. For years it has been known that they are caused by excess acid in the stomach and so was treated with various acid reducing medicines.

As for the cause of the excess acid the medics just waved their hands and bullshitted about stress and the like. There was no scientific investigation or interest in the cause. If they could relieve the symptoms with some pills, that was good enough. It was only in 1982 that two Australian microbiologists showed that most Stomach Ulcers were caused by an infection. The bacteria Helicobacter pylori can actually live in the stomach and the body tries to kill it my increasing the acidity of the stomach causing Stomach Ulcers. Of course this means that you can be cured with a short course of antibiotics rather than months or years of taking acid reducing medicines.

As an aside, you can imagine that this did not go down too well with the drug companies since these acid reducing drugs were one of there biggest money spinners. As a result they have done everything they can to encourage the medics to continue using the old treatments and are busy inventing new diseases that require their drugs. Acid reflux disease anyone?



[ Parent ]
Most Informative Post (5.00 / 1) (#152)
by Matrix on Fri May 23, 2003 at 03:55:07 PM EST

This gets my vote for most informative post on the entire thread. Much of the others have been scare-mongering (Witness Kwil's posts) or vegitarian propaganda. (Not to disparage it, they've got a lot of good points, but that's what it is.)

However, it would be nice if you could provide more sources for this. The ones you had in your previous post were good, though one was from a self-proclaimed environmentalist and the other was densely jargon-laden, making it somewhat impenetrable to those of us without extensive training. What you say sounds reasonable, but so does a lot of bull. (IE, rationalism, "ether physics")


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Re: Symptom yes... (5.00 / 2) (#165)
by Dr Seltsam on Mon May 26, 2003 at 04:57:43 AM EST

The conventional theory side-steps any explanation of how the "good" protiens get turned into "bad" protiens by assuming that with each new case the "bad" protiens came from outside the body originally and just replicated themselves and spread through the brain after they where introduced.
This is wrong. It is well known that there are spontaneous and hereditary cases of prion diseases, which arise without infection from an external source.

However all this assumes that it is possible for these "bad" protiens, prions, to actually jump from one animal to another and also to jump between species as well. This is the part that is totally unproven to my knowledge
Oral infection is a proven fact. Interspecies transmission is a proven fact. Infectiosity remains even after a treatment that will destroy all nucleic acids - so the infectious agent has to be a protein. Even the way this protein takes from the gastrointestinal tract via the splanchnic nerve to the brain is mapped.

After the government had started slaughtering cows they were never going to be interested in any research that didn't support their actions and since they are the major source of funding for this research the whole field is going to be biased towards getting the results government wants.
Not all BSE/prion research is funded by the british government...

Medicine is also barely a science anyway
It is right that medicine is in large parts descriptive and statistics-based and often doesn't really qualify as science. BUT... prion research is not really medical research. The prion theory has a sound fundament in biochemistry and biophysics. The whole concept is largely understood at a thermodynamic level. And that qualifies as science, one would think.
The fact that I'm paranoid does not mean that they are not after me.
[ Parent ]
The real question is... (1.08 / 12) (#155)
by BankofNigeria ATM on Fri May 23, 2003 at 06:24:44 PM EST

Why is my dick being blown daily? Especially since it isn't.

FOR A GOOD TIME, AIM ME AT: Nigerian ATM

"It hasn't been found in the US" (4.00 / 1) (#170)
by ehintz on Tue May 27, 2003 at 05:12:50 PM EST

That's what the beef producers always say. About 2 years ago I looked into BSE in great depth. I was rather alarmed to find that (at that time anyway) France tested 40,000 head a year for BSE, while the US tested 2,000. Given that the cattle industry in the US is rather large by comparison to that of France, the only logical conclusion one can come to is that the reason it's not been found is because we're trying very hard *not* to find it. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, especially when said absence is due to a lackluster attempt at gathering of evidence.

Another interesting fact I came across recently was a study of genes which seemingly provide immunity to CJD. The researchers found this gene in something like 85% of people tested; their conclusion was that way back in the past there was a lot of cannibalism going on and darwinism weeded out those without the resistance to prions.

As a result of my research, my wife and I swore off beef at that time. It's quite simple really. Yes, I realize that statistically it's extremely unlikely that A: the beef has BSE, and B: she, I, or our child are vulnerable to CJD. However, by not eating it, I remove even that small risk. Simple, really. Were the US to take a more responsible approach to BSE testing I might think differently, but as it stands they are increasing the risk for no reason whatsoever, a position I find unacceptable.

One last parting shot: New Zealand never fed cattle to cattle. As a result, the EU gives their beef the best rating possible (a scale of 1-4 where 4 is worst; NZ gets a 1, US/Canada get a 2). Recently, Whole Foods markets in the Bay Area have begun carrying New Zealand grass-fed beef, and we are again happily enjoying the ritual of the backyard BBQ.

Regards,
Ed Hintz
Same problem here (4.00 / 1) (#172)
by Dr Seltsam on Wed May 28, 2003 at 04:40:42 AM EST

We saw exactly the same problem in Germany. For some years, the Bavarian government announced that there was no BSE in Bavaria - until they started testing for it.
Now the highest number of BSE cases in Germany are found in Bavaria. It's always the same mechanism of denial.
The fact that I'm paranoid does not mean that they are not after me.
[ Parent ]
Why "Mad Cow"?! (none / 0) (#174)
by grandenonfatlatte on Thu May 29, 2003 at 06:40:10 PM EST

What I don't understand is why here in the US we continue to sensationalize this issue. Calling this "Mad Cow" instantly calls to mind some kind of cartoony image of a cow freakin out / twitching / foaming at the mouth. This may in fact happen, but it seems to me that treating this condition with a bit of dignity makes sense not only in that it is more humane, it is far more likely to be taken seriously by the general public.

News producers here in the US are probably very happy with the fact that cows go loopy from BSE; the term "Mad Cow" is so darn slapstick and buzzy it is sure to draw you in. Let's all stop for a moment, contemplate, and never utter "Mad Cow" again. If calling the disease BSE gets you a bovine stare, take the time to explain that Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is a chronic, degenerative disorder affecting the central nervous system of cattle.

Interesting Info about CJD! (none / 0) (#177)
by Invaderstin on Sun Jun 01, 2003 at 02:05:12 PM EST

    The first three paragraphs are taken from the book "Deadly Feasts" by Richard Rhodes.  

    "Dr. James Ironside is a pathologist with the British National CJD Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh.  In September 1995, studying a brain cross section from the teenage boy who had recently died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Ironside found amyloid plaques so large that they looked under the microscope like chrysanthemum blooms.  They weren't confined to the cerebellum, he determined, but spread throughout the brain. They stained for Prp (a protein).  Unlike smaller plaques of ordinary CJD, these were surrounded by a zone of spongiform change--a destructive halo of holes."

     "Ironside had never seen this unusual pattern of damage before, but he knew that sporadic CJD pathology varied widely from case to case.  He was startled, then, when another case turned up almost immediately with identical pathology.  He alerted the director of the Surveillance Unit, Dr. Robert Will.  Will mobilized the Unit's staff.  Staff members quickly turned up six more suspect cases in young people."  

     "At first Will and Ironside thought the youthfullness of the victims might be the reason for the similarities in their pathology.  When the doctors checked the literature however, they learned that the few rare cases of CJD in people under thirty in Britain and Europe showed no such florid plaques widespread in the brain.  Late in 1995, Surveillance Unit staff began traveling the country interviewing the victims' families to rule out Familial CJD or Iatrogenic CJD from growth hormone or surgery."

-------------------------------------------------

What do these paragraphs tell us?  It is basically indicating that there was a transmission of BSE to humans.  When these new findings were reported to the SEAC (Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee), immediately a group of scientists and physicians were appointed to advise the British government on BSE.

I found a quote from one of the victims' fathers to be included in the six uncovered cases.  I wrote a paper on this subject back in '99 when it was much more recent, but it still has great impact on this thread.

  Peter Hall, a twenty-year-old student, who was fond of hamburgers as a young teenager, died in February of 1996 from BSE; His father said,

   "When BSE was first discovered I gave up Beef because I expected something like this might develop.  But not in my wildest nightmares did I think it would strike down someone in our own family."

   Robert Will would tell a London newspaper of these ten cases that "their brain tissue displayed a distinctive disease pattern closer to the damage inflicted on a cow's brain by BSE than the damage normal CJD inflicts on humans."

   At a SEAC session on March 19, senior members of the British Cabinet tried to suppress any announcement OF THE NEW VARIANT FORM OF CJD, arguing that the scientists might be wrong.  The Ceretary of State for Health, Stephen Dorrell, insisted that the public had to be told.  On Wednesday, March 20, 1996, speaking in the House of Commons, Dorrell informed a STUNNED NATION that BSE HAD PROBABLY SPREAD TO HUMANS FROM EATING BEEF.

   Wouldn't you know.

 

You can get it from squirrels too (none / 0) (#179)
by statusbar on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 02:14:21 AM EST

Yes!

Mad Squirrel Disease is real. Eating squirrel brains (!!!) can cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob's disease.

This brings up a few questions... How do the squirrels get it? They are not force fed other squirrels, right? Why would someone eat squirrel brain stew in the first place? Maybe brains and spinal columns and intestines are just plain not good to eat?

One more point though on the cows in Alberta. Yes, the cows were not fed cows. But the chickens were fed cows. And the cows were fed chicken litter

This is just astounding to me. Feed chickens the cows, and feed the chicken's shit back to the cows again. The circle of life, I guess?

By the way, I still eat steak.

--jeff++

It's an insane scare (none / 0) (#180)
by xavier boone on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 07:36:11 AM EST

Yes there is such a thing as CJD and yes if you contract it you are pretty much as good as dead. However in ten years of the disease being around in the UK 135 people have contracted it. On those grounds should you stop eating beef? Of course not! Think of the hundreds of millions of servings of beef products which were consumed over that time period and you realise the incredibly low risk of contracting it in the first place. Bring me steak, bring it on the bone and make it raw god-damn it.

Sources and Solutions (none / 0) (#181)
by bittur on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 09:30:40 AM EST

Here are some thoughts on what has happened:

1. The one Mad Cow did not come from Alberta or Canada. It came from the US.

2. Mad Cow disease only affects those producers that feed dead cows to live cows (which are naturally predisposed to being vegetarians). This contradiction with natural phenomena simply to save a few bucks on decent feed has lead to the development of this disease.

3. Avoid the Problem. Boycott any supplier of mass-produced food. Try to buy local or organic instead. This may force a change in procedure and practice when it comes to the 'manufacture' of beef and livestock.

4. Toronto's garbage should stay in Toronto. In fact, Torontonians (or members of any major metropolis) should pay to have their garbage removed. Of course, this would never happen because they would then demand that producers stop creating packaged goods with so much damn packaging.

Media hype (none / 0) (#182)
by Saad on Mon Nov 17, 2003 at 07:03:20 PM EST

I eat beef and recommend the same to you.

Back few years ago, in Germany where my uncle is a Vet, they would kill huge herds of cow that were ENGLISH BRAND. That means exactly what you think: the cows had nothing to do with english soil, other then their 10th or 15th generation ancestors comming from there. But a media panic that "english cows are here!!" caused this. A friend, old "bauer", lost all his cows, he'd been working with whole his life. Sure he got money back, but his world crushed, the guy commited  suicide.

Think also about this:
The disease comes from sheep and was quite well documented to apear in Scottland in the XVIII and XIX century. The sheep brains were given as food for livestock, and the proccess of preparation was changed so that the temperatures was lower (to make it cheeper?) so then cows got infected. On the news you will see a singled out proffesor, who just wants to be a star,or is old&paranoid, and he talks about 100k victims in the near future, spoiled milk, and even grass and pastures. Pretty much worse then Cschernobyl. Media are happy since where there is pannic, there is more sale of news.

Now let us think logicaly.

If this disease was known for centuries and people there were eating sheep, why didnt they already die back then? And just to remind you,in those ages people didnt eat just nice parts of an animal, they ate ALL that was possible (unlike us, or at lease we are told to belive that).

Sure there seems to be some corelation between prions in cows and in people. But lets stop talking about holocaust.
"POST COITUM OMNE ANIMAL TRISTE EST."

Its blown out for a reason (none / 0) (#183)
by astroboysoup on Wed Dec 10, 2003 at 06:54:55 PM EST

What happens when other a country such as England has a huge outbreak of mad cow disease??? Countries like Australia start to benefit from the rasied prices and the increase of exports to other countries. Back in 1996 the Australian dollar was hovering around 1 Aussie dollar for 50 US cents. This meant a huge increase of profits. One countries disaster is another's glory!!!
I'll win the lotto one day...
Is "Mad Cow Disease" being blown out of proportion? | 183 comments (162 topical, 21 editorial, 0 hidden)
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