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Mad Cows

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Mad Cow Disease is
An Insidious Brain Killer
And it is Everywhere

By James Donahue
If you are a meat eater, the chance is good that you are dying of Mad Cow Disease.

The disease, scientifically called bovine spongiform encephalopathy, eats holes in the brain of infected animals (and humans), drives the victim insane. By the time they die, the brain tissue looks like a block of gray Swiss cheese.

First publicized in 1995 when there was an outbreak among infected beef cattle in England, the disease has silently spread all over the world. The odds are very high that the beef, pork, chicken and mutton you buy, or the deer you shoot, is infected with the prion that brings the onset of this insidious disease.

Alarmist you say? I issued a warning about this problem at least three years ago while working as a reporter and columnist for an Arizona newspaper. People thought I was crazy then too. But look at the latest information, now being issued by medical reports.

A recent issue of
New Science reported that while most people throughout Europe believe they have little chance of catching Creutzfeld-Jakob disease (the human form of Mad Cow) scientists advising the European Commission say they have every reason to be worried.

That is because infected meat, meat by-products or contaminated animal feed made from pulverized bones and internal organs of
infected livestock have been carelessly shipped to nine other European countries including Germany, Italy and Spain plus Canada, Australia and the United States.

In the U.S., forms of bovine spongiform encephalopathy are appearing in sheep and wild animals, including deer and elk, although the disease has been concealed under different names. In sheep it is known as "scrapie," and in the wild animals it is called "chronic wasting disease." There have been a growing number of cases of Creutzfeld-Jakob disease in humans in Europe, mostly in England, and the disease is showing up now among humans in the U. S. Granted that few, if any, cases have yet been reported among our dairy and beef cattle.

How can it be here and stay so concealed? That is because the disease sometimes can be very slow to make its appearance. It has been known to remain dormant in victims for as long as 30 years. Even though the infection may be present, there is not enough time for it to show up in beef cows, chickens or hogs that are primarily raised for meat. These animals only remain alive for a few months until they are fully grown, then they are slaughtered. Many animals are fed growth hormones to make them grow larger and develop faster so they produce more meat faster.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy is best known in sheep, which are maintained over long periods of time for their wool, dairy cows which are kept for years while they remain good milk producers, and the wild deer and elk that escape the hunter's gun long enough to contract the disease. Dairy farmers cull their herds, often butchering livestock when milk production drops significantly, which may be an early sign of the onset of Mad Cow Disease.

MLO Magazine, a publication for hospital personnel, doctors and medical technologists, recently published an extensive report on the threat of bovine spongiform encephalopathy for people who handle and eat meat and meat products in Europe and the United States.

The article said
Dr. Stanley Prusiner of the University of California, San Francisco, in 1997 was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for his discovery of the prion, the common thread linking all of these brain diseases in animals and humans.

Prions are an abnormal type of disease-causing substance. They are not classified as viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites. Instead, the only way to describe them is to say that they are a type of protein constructed from a set of 20 amino acids. Strangely enough, all living creatures, including humans, contain this protein. What seems to be happening is that a new maverick strain of this protein has developed which damages brain tissue through a process of vacuolation, making neurons appear like sponges with pitted holes.

The scary part of this story is that this new type of prion seems to be indestructible.  The report said research found that "prions can survive the pressurized steam of autoclaves, filtration, extreme heat, radiation, formaldehyde and decades of freezing." Also it is clear that they cross species, and can be spread by blood transfusion and feeding on infected animals and animal parts.

Cooking the meat thoroughly will not protect the consumer from becoming infected. Also receiving blood, or perhaps even coming in contact with blood from an infected person may introduce the prion to a new victim.

Also frightening is that to date, no tests exist that help medical people determine the presence of "mad cow disease" prions in stored blood. The best that can be done is to accumulate a complete background of information from blood donors and hope they are truthful. The article recommends that blood donations be refused from anyone who has been diagnosed with CJD, persons who have received transplant or human growth hormone, persons who have spent time in Europe, and persons who have injected bovine insulin since 1980.

This writer became a vegetarian after studying the threat of Mad Cow Disease about three years ago. It is my belief that anyone eating meat or meat products, including dairy products, is playing Russian roulette.

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