Beached Whales An Indicator Of Neurological Disease On Land

Whales Contracting Neurological Disease From Human Sewage

Sick animals and sick people can tell us a lot about the health of our environment. A study in Denmark is raising red flags. There could be a common thread between sick whales and sick humans upstream.

whale beached caused by prion disease

Whales have too much intellectual, social and navigational capacity to run aground en masse unless extremely sick and disoriented. There have been several high-profile stranding events around the world in the past few years alone. An alarming number of whales are washing up on Alaska’s shores now. As mammals high on the food chain, their health is a good indictor of environmental health. We should be testing those that die much more rigorously for toxic buildup and disease. Whales are downstream from billions of people, so they are in a position to serve as unique bio-indicators.

These beached whales and dolphins are the oceans’ version of canaries in coal mines. Their bodies are like giant sponges that can offer insight into the health of the ocean and the planet.

For example, sick and dead whales might be able to shed light on the Alzheimer’s disease epidemic that is exploding exponentially around the globe. Thanks to reckless sewage disposal practices around the world, unstoppable prions are being dumped in our watersheds and waterways on an industrial scale. If the prion pathogen associated with Alzheimer’s and many related neurodegenerative diseases is present in whales and dolphins, it’s further confirmation of the scope and spread of these killer proteins. Unfortunately, that critical test is not taking place on the whales and dolphins now. Therefore, people continue to serve as the canary in the coal mine.

land application sewage sludge

As with humans and other mammals, whales and dolphins are vulnerable to prion disease. Prion disease has many names, including Alzheimer’s disease,  Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) and Parkinson’s disease. In livestock, it’s known as mad cow disease. In deer, it’s being called chronic wasting disease. They all are forms of what is called transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). TSEs are deadly and unstoppable. The prion pathogen behind them and the diseases themselves are being mismanaged globally. Our oceans are the holding pond for those that runoff the land with water.

At least one dolphin has been found with prion disease, but testing is severely lacking. Since dietary factors are clearly linked to neurological disease, we can learn more about the health of whales by studying the people who eat them. In turn, the health of the whales can shed light on the health of our food and water supplies upstream. A pioneering researcher is conducting such research now to better understand human health, the health of our oceans and the connections between those factors.

Whale meat appears to be contributing to high rates of neurological disease in Nordic and Baltic nations. Pioneering research found that Parkinson’s patients on the Faroe Islands have consumed about six times more whale meat and blubber than their neighbors who don’t have the disease.

Maria Skaalum Petersen Parkinson's disease and whale meat
Maria Skaalum Petersen has hit the tip of an iceberg.

Maria Skaalum Petersen is working to shed light on the connection between sick seas, sick whales and the people who consume them. Petersen is a researcher in the Department of Occupational and Public Health in the Faroe Islands health service. One of her projects has included a comparison of the prevalence of Parkinson’s disease (part of the TSE spectrum) in the Nordic countries.

She found that Parkinson’s disease is twice as prevalent on the Faroe Islands as in Norway and other Nordic countries. A traditional diet on the Faroe Islands typically includes pilot whale meat.

Predators, including some whales, are high on the food chain. Predators that consume predators are consuming the toxic build-up from every animal ever consumed. Therefore, predators (and the people who consume them) often serve as an excellent indicator of the health of an entire ecosystem, including prion contamination.

Not all whales are created equal, though. The whale meat sold in Norway and Iceland is mostly from minke whales, a species that has a diet much lower in the food chain. This means they do not accumulate as many contaminants or prions as pilot whales. This means that the risks associated with whale meat is slightly less for the people in Norway. Norway still has a fairly high rate of neurological disease.

eating pilot whales causes Parkinson's disease

“The Faroe Islanders eat pilot whales, while Norwegians eat baleen whales. Pilot whales have teeth and primarily eat fish and squid, which puts them higher on the food chain,” Petersen says.

Baleen whales feed by filtering zooplankton and krill into their mouths as they swim. In essence, they are vegetarians. Eating lower on the food chain lowers their prion exposure, but it doesn’t make them immune to the prion problem.

This study indicates that there is prion accumulation in whales–some more than others. It indicates that prions are in our oceans and onward upstream. It indicates that prions are in our food and water supplies and reckless sewage management is contributing to the problem. It reminds us of the hazards associated with wastewater reuse, sewage sludge disposal and biosolids in our communities and watersheds and the oceans below.

biosolids management land application

What can we learn from the Faroe Islands and whale meat? Prions are building up in the environment and in mammals now.This is a battle of pathway management. Time to manage the contamination is running out. Sewage mismanagement, including agricultural and industrial waste, is contributing to the problem.

If whales could talk, they would tell us to get our sh*t together and put it in a much safer place. Presently, we are recycling sewage sludge, biosolids and reclaimed wastewater throughout our watersheds. We are contaminating food and water supplies. We are pissing in the pool. We’re being fed lies and prions. Save the world. Save the whales. Save yourself.

Read more about the Alzheimer’s disease epidemic in Nordic and Baltic states, including Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Norway

public relations firm and public affairs firm Denver and Phoenix

Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and the prion disease epidemic is one of our special areas of practice. Please contact Gary Chandler to join our coalition for reform

Prion Disease Found In Dolphins

Sea Mammals Vulnerable To Prion Disease

There is a deadly prion epidemic expanding around the globe. The epidemic consists of a family of fatal neurodegenerative diseases that are unstoppable among humans and a variety of other mammals, including sea mammals. We know them as mad cow disease, chronic wasting disease, scrapie, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and Alzheimer’s disease. The diseases are virtually identical in pathology and progression. There are no cures. They are fatal. They all are transmissible. The nightmare is spreading further every day.

whales and prion disease

Alzheimer’s disease is already killing 44 million people around the world today. The numbers are expected to triple by the middle of the century. Canada has declared that chronic wasting disease is unstoppable among deer and elk populations. We have no idea how prevalent the problem is among livestock because of token testing.

Prion disease has also been found in dolphins, which means that all mammals are likely vulnerable to the disease.

Prion disease is prion disease–also known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). It’s unstoppable. The common denominator among impacted species is a deadly protein called a prion (pree-ON). The bad news is that the disease is in the oceans and the pathogen will migrate, mutate and multiply in that environment just as it does on land. It’s likely responsible for many of the dolphins and whales around the world that are beaching themselves in an attempt to speak to human civilization about the toxins that we are dumping into the oceans. In fact, sewage dumped into the ocean is contributing to the prion problem in the oceans (I will elaborate in another post).

Prions and Prusiner win Nobel Prize

Prion protein (PrP) has attracted lots of scientific research. It’s even earned a Nobel Prize for Dr. Stanley Prusiner at the University of California San Francisco. President Obama presented Prusiner with the National Medal of Science in 2010 to underscore the importance of this pioneering work with prions.

Dolphins, of course, are ocean mammals. Marino (2004) and Herman et al. (2002) showed that the bottlenose dolphins possess an Encephalization Quotient (EQ) ranging from 4 to 5, which is tantalizingly close to human levels and higher than any other animals (in other words, they are susceptible to prion disease). It is interesting that the bottle-nosed dolphin has special capacity of short-term and long-term memory for visual, auditory and multimodal information and abstract concepts. The dolphins are capable of understanding semantics and syntax, and even can understand symbolic references to objects that are absent. All of these evidences may suggest that the dolphin brain is still very much like a mystery and well worth carrying out deep exploration (Herman et al., 2001).

sewage treatment plant and disease

The recent discovery of prion disease (PD) case in a free-ranging bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) prompted us to carry out an extensive search for the disease-associated isoform (PrPSc) of the cellular prion protein (PrPC) in the brain and in a range of lymphoid tissues from 23 striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba), 5 bottlenose dolphins and 2 Risso s dolphins (Grampus griseus) found stranded between 2007 and 2012 along the Italian coastline.

Three striped dolphins and one bottlenose dolphin showed microscopic lesions of encephalitis, with no evidence of spongiform brain lesions being detected in any of the 30 free-ranging cetaceans investigated herein. Nevertheless, we could still observe a prominent PrPC immunoreactivity in the brain as well as in lymphoid tissues from these dolphins. Although immunohistochemical and Western blot investigations yielded negative results for PrPSc deposition in all tissues from the dolphins under study, the reported occurrence of a spontaneous PD case in a wild dolphin is an intriguing issue and a matter of concern for both prion biology and intra/inter-species transmissibility, as well as for cetacean conservation medicine.

land application sewage sludge

Once Japanese officials understand the importance of this discovery, they might lose their taste for killing dolphins. The country is very sensitive to the threats of mad cow disease and dolphins are getting the same disease from contaminants in the oceans. Mad whales also are a real possibility. We all need to demand testing of beached whales and dolphins and demand an end to the killing of these magnificent creatures in the sea.

Prions are associated with an entire family of neurological disorders that are killing people, wildlife and livestock around the world. These deadly diseases are known as Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE). The operative word is “transmissible.” TSEs include Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, scrapie, chronic wasting disease and mad cow disease. Victims permanently contaminate the world around them with their bodily fluids. Once contaminated with prions, items cannot be sterilized.

chronic wasting disease caused by prions



public relations firm and public affairs firm Denver and Phoenix

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