Mad Cow Disease Exposes Prion Mismanagement
The random testing system for BSE (mad cow disease) caught another dairy cow last year in Central California. The good news is that the meat was kept from the food supply. The question is whether or not humans consumed her milk? Or that of other animals that never exhibited clinical signs of the disease, but were carriers of deadly prions–as officials claim happened in Brazil recently.
What also isn’t addressed is the fact that prions have been found in the saliva of cattle. We must assume that prions are in urine, feces, blood and milk at the very least. Therefore, how much land, water, equipment and livestock does a prion carrier contaminate among the path to its demise? Why did they reopen the dairy where the cow with BSE came from?
The soil, pens, water tanks, and milk stalls were all likely exposed to prions, which can’t be sterilized. Why are we still marketing beef tongue? Why do we allow untested livestock to roam public lands, where they can expose wildlife to prions and visa versa. Why do we render untested animals and use the byproducts in pet food, lotions, gel caps and other products that are potential prion pathways? Why are we sending hunters into CWD zones to kill and consume sick deer, elk, and moose? Are they informed of the prion dangers to their homes and families when animals subsequently test positive (weeks later if tested at all)? Why are we killing wolves in states such as Wisconsin, Wyoming and Minnesota and others that have chronic wasting disease among wildlife? Wolves can help limit the spread of deadly prions by taking down sick animals as soon as they become weakened by the disease.
What are we doing to protect our blood supplies and dental equipment? Shouldn’t we start treating Alzheimer’s disease like a prion disease and put up the appropriate safeguards in our homes, hospital and communities?
Given the amount of people with Alzheimer’s disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), we undoubtedly have contaminated our sewage systems with deadly prions (again, prions are in urine, feces, blood, milk and other bodily fluids–ask a surgeon or a coroner). Therefore, why are we recycling waste water and disease via water and biosolids? Prions cannot be neutralized or removed from sewage. Spreading them on golf courses, parks and crops is not a great idea.
The prion peril is real. We can’t afford to mismanage this issue or misinform stakeholders. Unlike radiation, prions do not have a half life. They grow exponentially and they seem to mutate along the way. There is not a cure for prion disease in any species. Since so much is still unknown, we must assume that all mammals are ravaged by prions in a similar manner. Therefore, we can’t afford to duplicate studies among all species before we alter policies, procedures and overall safeguards accordingly for the sake of better prion management and containment. It’s better to error on the safe side of prion management, if we are to error at all. The following video is an interesting punctuation point.
Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic wasting disease and the prion disease epidemic is an area of special expertise. Please contact Gary Chandler to join our coalition for reform firstname.lastname@example.org.