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Mad Cow Story Not Going Away


By James Donahue


There were two disconcerting stories about Mad Cow Disease in the news recently.


One was a charge by U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarians that a government testing lab assigned to test for Mad Cow in the United States is covering up test results.


The second story said a government funded research study in the UK, where the disease first broke out in the 1986, believes an estimated 4,000 people in that country could be infected with the human version of the disease without knowing it.


One story suggests that the cover-up and denial that Mad Cow Disease exists in the US is still going on to protect that powerful beef industry. The other suggests that the disease is lurking all over England, where people ate tainted beef before they knew the dangers, and has yet to be found out.


The disease is believed to lie dormant, sometimes as long as 30 years, before attacking the victim. It also can hit much sooner, as an estimated 141 Britains learned when they contracted the disease. Are we playing a form of Russian roulette? Is everybody nuts?


I remember writing a news story some years back about some not-so-bright teenagers who found some old sticks of dynamite while on a drinking spree. They lit one of the sticks, and as the fuse sparked, one of the boys put it in his mouth, pretending to smoke it like a cigar. Great fun while it lasted. The blast blew his head to little pieces.


It sounds to me like a lot folks in the U.S. are playing with another lighted stick of dynamite. Some USDA veterinarians believe that the disease is "prevalent and epidemic" in US herds, and that the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, that conducts all of the tests for mad cow disease, is hiding the evidence.


What? Not trust your government to tell you the truth about mad cow disease? If you are still wearing those kinds of blinders then stop reading this story right now. It will do you no good. Just go to the refrigerator or local meat counter, buy a pound of hamburger, and fry up a burger or two. You will never see or notice the deadly prions. Besides, if you are still a meat eater, they are probably already feeding on your brain so why worry now?


A United Press International story said the concern is that humans can contact a variant and fatal form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease that attacks the brain by eating contaminated meat. It said a veterinarian interviewed for the story said he or she could not accept the USDA's official report that the U.S. beef supply is free of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, the official name for mad cow disease.


They call it that because the disease eats holes in the brain. Autopsies reveal that after victims go insane and die a terrible death, their brains look like a sponge because of all the holes.


"Most agency veterinarians know mad cow is prevalent and epidemic (in U.S. herds)," the unnamed source said in the story. "Were not talking about one or two cases."


In fact, an international panel commissioned by the USDA to review the problem that first reared up when a butchered cow tested positive for mad cow in Washington state late last year, found it probably that other infected cows have not only been imported to the U.S. from Canada but also Europe. The report said some of these animals were turned into cow feed and consequently infected many U.S. herds.


The only way to know if a person or animal has mad cow disease is to conduct an autopsy and look at the brain after the victim is dead. The symptoms are a lot like Alzheimer's Disease.


So why do British scientists think the disease may be running ramped in that country? They have examined stored appendix and tonsil samples and say they are finding signs that a certain number of the patients are carrying the prion that causes Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.


Applying their findings to the total 60 million people living in the United Kingdom, they are guessing that about 3,800 people may be carrying the disease.


Don't you wonder how many people are infected in your neighborhood? If you are still eating meat, you may be among them.

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