Prion Disease Surging
Neurodegenerative disease, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, is the fastest-growing cause of death in the world. Misinformation and mismanagement are contributing to the surge. Alzheimer’s disease alone is killing 50-100 million people now. Experts suggest that the prevalence will quadruple by 2050. It probably won’t take that long.
Death rates from heart disease and cancer are dropping globally due to advances in nutrition, medicine and disease management. Meanwhile, neurodegenerative disease is exploding. In the U.S., deaths from Alzheimer’s disease increased 71 percent from 2000 to 2013, while those attributed to heart disease decreased 14 percent. Similar trends are emerging around the world.
- Women are contracting neurodegenerative disease at twice the rate of men;
- Spouses of those with neurodegenerative disease are 600% more likely to contract the disease;
- People in Finland, Iceland, Sweden and the United States have the highest prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease. Rates in North Dakota, South Dakota and Washington rival the highest rates in the world; and
- Caregivers are in harm’s way because of disease mismanagement;
The epidemic is larger than anyone knows. Physicians are withholding millions of diagnoses from patients and their families. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, physicians in the U.S. only inform 45 percent of patients about their Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The same suppression is likely at work in most countries. Meanwhile, millions more go undiagnosed and misdiagnosed.
At a cost of $236 billion a year, Alzheimer’s disease is already the most expensive disease in the United States. The disease saw a 15.7 percent bump over 2014 numbers–the largest increase of all major causes of death. It accounted for at least 108,227 deaths in the U.S. alone in 2015. A similar pattern is emerging around the globe–some regions much more than others. In the U.S. alone, nearly one in every five Medicare dollars is spent on people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. And these costs will only continue to increase as baby boomers age, soaring to more than $1 trillion in 2050.
In order to understand the threat, one must understand the dynamics of this neurological disease. Alzheimer’s disease, for example, is a member of an aggressive family of neurodegenerative diseases known as Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE). The operative word is “transmissible.”
TSEs also include Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, mad cow disease and chronic wasting disease in the deer family. Few, if any, mammals are immune. There is no cure.
Dr. Stanley Prusiner, an American neuroscientist from the University of California at San Francisco, earned a Nobel Prize in 1997 for discovering and characterizing deadly prions and prion disease. President Obama awarded Prusiner the National Medal of Science in 2010 to recognize the importance of his research. According to Prusiner, TSEs all are on the same disease spectrum, which is more accurately described as prion (PREE-on) disease. He claims that all TSEs are caused by prions.
Prions are unstoppable and the pathogen spreads through the bodily fluids and cell tissue of its victims. Prions shed from humans are the most deadly mutation. They demand more respect than radiation. Infected surgical instruments, for example, are impossible to sterilize and hospitals throw them away. Prions are in the blood, saliva, urine, feces, mucus, and bodily tissue of its victims. Many factors are contributing to the epidemic. Prions are now the X factor. Industry and government are not accounting for them or regulating them. They are ignoring the threat completely, which violates the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 in the United States. Other nations also are ignoring laws developed to protect food, air and water.
“There is now real evidence of the potential transmissibility of Alzheimer’s,” says Thomas Wiesniewski M.D. a prion and Alzheimer’s researcher at New York University School of Medicine. “In fact, this ability to transmit an abnormal conformation is probably a universal property of amyloid-forming proteins.”
A new study published in the journal Nature renews concern about the transmissibility of Alzheimer’s disease between people. A second study by the same scientist in early 2016 adds to the stack of evidence.
Experts claim that at least 25 percent of Alzheimer’s diagnoses are not Alzheimer’s disease. These misdiagnoses are actually Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), which is further up the prion spectrum. CJD, without dispute, is extremely infectious to caregivers and loved ones. Millions of cases of deadly CJD are being misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease. Millions of patients and caregivers are being misinformed, misguided and exposed to an aggressive disease. Misdiagnosis and misinformation regarding prion disease is a matter of life and death. The mismanagement doesn’t end here.
When the U.S. government enacted the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, it classified prions as select agents that pose an extreme risk to food, water and much more. Only two labs in the U.S. were allowed to handle them for research purposes. Unfortunately, the CDC quietly took prions off the list because the regulation criminalized entire industries and several reckless practices.
Wastewater treatment plants, for example, are spreading this infectious waste far and wide because they are incapable of stopping prions. All by-products and discharges from wastewater treatment plants are infectious waste, which are contributing to the global epidemic of neurodegenerative disease among humans, wildlife and livestock. Sewage treatment plants can’t detect or stop prions. Just ask the U.S. EPA and the industry trade organization—the Wastewater Effluent Federation. Sewage sludge (biosolids) and wastewater reclamation are causing widespread contamination.
Once unleashed on the environment, prions remain infectious. They migrate, mutate and multiply as they infect crops, water supplies, wildlife, livestock and more.
Deer, elk, moose and reindeer are now contracting prion disease from humans. To help cloak the epidemic, it’s called chronic wasting disease (CWD). Deer with CWD are proverbial canaries in a coal mine. They are being killed by government sharpshooters to help cover up the problem. It’s insane.
When cattle are exposed to prions, it’s being called mad cow disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, which is just a clever way of saying transmissible spongiform encephalopathy). Species barriers are a myth and part of the cover-up.
Unfortunately, prions linger in the environment, homes, hospitals, nursing homes, dental offices and beyond infinitely. Prions defy all attempts at sterilization and inactivation. If they can’t stop prions in the friendly and sterile confines of an operating room, they can’t stop them in the wastewater treatment plant.
The risk assessments prepared by the U.S. EPA for wastewater treatment and sewage sludge are flawed and current practices of recycling this infectious waste is fueling a public health disaster. Many risks are not addressed, including prions and radioactive waste. They don’t mention prions or radiation because there is no answer. Most nations are making the same mistake. We’re dumping killer proteins on crops, parks, golf courses, gardens, ski areas, school grounds and beyond. Wind, rain and irrigation spread these contaminants and many more throughout our communities and watersheds.
Failure to account for known risks is negligent. Crops for humans and livestock grown grown in sewage sludge absorb prions and become infectious. We’re all vulnerable to Alzheimer’s and other forms of prion disease right now due to widespread denial and mismanagement. It’s time to stop the land application of sewage sludge (LASS) in all nations. Safer alternatives exist.
Researchers have more questions than answers about brain disease, but we know that neurotoxins, head trauma and genetics can all trigger neurodegenerative disease. Unfortunately, that’s where our knowledge gets fuzzy. Most diagnoses are a process of elimination. After eliminating all other possibilities, the guesswork begins:
- If the patient has a memory disorder, it’s Alzheimer’s disease.
- If they have a movement disorder, it’s Parkinson’s disease.
- If the patient shows both symptoms, flip a coin.
- If they ever had a concussion, it’s possibly CTE.
- If the person is incapacitated, it’s Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).
Prion disease is a spectrum disease that varies in severity. It also varies depending on which region of the brain is impacted first. It affects most, if not all, mammals. Prion disease causes memory loss, impaired coordination, and abnormal movements. It’s not known which patients with brain disease become infectious or when, but both CJD and Alzheimer’s patients are being mismanaged. Informed neurologists won’t touch patients with these symptoms because of the risk of transmission. They are making diagnoses from across the room.
“CJD behaves like Alzheimer’s disease on steroids,” said Dr. Jennifer Majersik, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Utah.
Experts claim that at least 25 percent of Alzheimer’s diagnoses are not Alzheimer’s disease. These misdiagnoses are actually CJD, which is further up the prion spectrum. CJD, without dispute, is extremely infectious to caregivers and loved ones. Millions of cases of deadly CJD are being misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease. Millions of patients and caregivers are being misinformed, misguided and exposed to an aggressive disease. Misdiagnosis and misinformation regarding prion disease is a matter of life and death. The mismanagement doesn’t end here.
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Gary Chandler is a prion expert. He is the CEO of Crossbow Communications, author of several books and producer of documentaries about health and environmental issues around the world. Chandler is connecting the dots to the global surge in neurodegenerative disease, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic wasting disease and other forms of prion disease. The scientific name for prion disease is transmissible spongiform encephalopathy. The operative word is “transmissible.” Even the global surge in autism appears to be related.