V RaptureChrist Newsletter
January 1, 2004

Mad Cows Here? 

On  Dec 9, 2003 the unthinkable happened;  a Holstein cow from a dairy farm in Mabton, Washington was slaughtered and its meat tested positive for Mad Cow Disease (MCD) or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). This cow was too weak to stand up and obviously sick, yet incredibly its meat entered the US food supply. 

Apparently the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) was asleep at the wheel; BSE has already infected over 180,000 livestock in Europe, and caused hundreds of human deaths worldwide.

On Dec 25, 2003 the Department of Agriculture recalled 10,000 pounds of U.S. beef believed to possibly be contaminated with BSE.

On Sunday, Dec 28, 2003, Kenneth Petersen, a spokesman for the Department's Food Safety Inspection said that beef from the diseased animal was sent to eight states, (Washington state, Oregon, Nevada, California, Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana,  and the U.S. territory of Guam). 

Cows that look healthy can carry BSE

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) uses the  don't look, don't find method. Currently it tests only 1 out of every 18,000 cows slaughtered;  in contrast, Switzerland tests 1 out of every 60 cows. In Germany all cows are tested by law for BSE. So few cows are tested in the US that it is remarkable that the USDA found any mad cow at all!

Japan and South Korea have banned all imports of U.S. Beef; that's 46% of the total U.S. beef exports -- an economic impact of several billion dollars per year.

The USDA is slow to act; it is now planning to slaughter three herds associated with the diseased cow. All of them are located in Washington state. One herd of cattle is in Mabton, where the mad cow was last herded, and the two other herds are located in the town of Mattawa about 50 miles away, where other cows and  herdmates of the mad cow now live.

One priority has been finding the source of infection. Investigators believe that they have traced the infection to the Northern Alberta Co. processing plant in Edmonton, Alberta Canada which was a supplier of protein used in the cattle feed. The plant, owned by Vancouver-based West Coast Reduction Ltd., is thought to also be responsible for a Black Angus cow with BSE detected in May 2003 in Alberta.

It is believed that bone meal is the culprit for the transmission of the disease, since bone meal contains spinal column and nerve tissue which is very infective.  "The bone meal is the main ingredient we're worried about here," said Dr. Cornelius Kiley of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. 

Sick cows used as food.

Of the over 35 million cattle slaughtered last year only 20,526 were tested for Mad Cow.  The only reason they tested the dairy cow in Washington state was that it was too sick to even stand up. This is what they call "downer cattle".

New York Democratic Congressman Gary Ackerman said such cows shouldn't be in the food supply in the first place.

The Senate passed a ban on all downer cattle earlier this year, but the bill failed to make it through the House of Representatives.

"I blame it on greed, greed, greed," Ackerman said. "The greed of the industry, the greed of the lobbyists and the greed of the members of Congress."

Democratic candidate for president, Howard Dean, voiced his criticism of President George Bush last week for his inability to protect the American people from BSE, saying that the report of an  infected dairy cow "raises serious concerns about the ability of this administration to protect the safety of our nation's food supply." 

George W. Bush campaigned for industry deregulation when he was running for the President in 2000. We should not be surprised at the results.  No state has more cattle than Texas, his home state, and this state will probably be the hardest hit of all.


The possibility exists that the fatal mad cow infective prions could already be in the nation's food supply. 


What Can We Do About It?

What causes MCD or BSE?
The most prevalent theory is that Mad Cow is  caused by a prion, a non-viral agent which is neither RNA or DNA, but an infectious malformed protein. The technical name is Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), an always fatal progressive neurological disorder of cattle which can be transmitted to other species, including humans.  The infectious protein literally causes holes in the brain and destroys nerve tissue. 

The first spongiform encephalopathy to be known was scrapie, which infects goats and sheep.  In 1961 scrapie was transmitted to a different species --mice -- by inoculating them with infected brain tissue from sheep.

Kuru is another spongiform encephalopathy, a disease of a remote part of New Guinea which infected the human population and was transmitted by eating the brains of the deceased. 

There is also Chronic Wasting Disease of mule deer and Rocky Mountain elk.  Mink Encephalopathy was first described in 1947 in Wisconsin, and  Feline Spongiform Encephalopathy in domestic cats was noticed in the 1980's.  

Mad cow disease was first recognized in Nov. 1986 in Britain.  Since the 1940's meat and bone meal has been added to cattle feed to enhance the protein content.  The meal was made from animal tissue obtained from slaughterhouses.  This tissue was processed using solvents which melt away the tallow leaving a residue of  meat and bone meal.  In 1981 the use of organic solvents for processing was stopped.  It is thought that the solvents and high temperatures used in the processing had kept the infective agent under control.  After this treatment was stopped, BSE emerged.

In humans, this disease is called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease(CJD), and it is difficult to distinguish from Alzheimer's disease since the definitive diagnosis is obtained only with a brain biopsy, which is rarely done.

There is one common denominator to spongiform encephalopathies -- they are transmitted by feeding contaminated tissue to other animals

What are the symptoms of BSE or CJD?
Symptoms include irritability to touch, and a wobbling unsteady gait resulting in inability to stand up.  The human form of mad cow disease is CJD which can only be definitively diagnosed with a brain biopsy or on autopsy, but which presents with severe memory loss, emotional instability including mood swings, inappropriate outbursts, and dementia. There is marked weakness in the extremities, unsteady gait and progressive neurological deterioration. Although there is a long incubation period with CJD, once the symptoms begin the progression is typically rapid.  The symptoms of CJD cannot be reliably distinguished from other neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's.  In addition, since so little is known about CJD, the possibility for undiagnosed or misdiagnosed patients is high.  The resulting underestimated incidence and prevalence of the disease is frightening.

How do we prevent Mad Cow?
Unlike most viruses, prions are thought to be  indestructible; it is not possible to incinerate animal carcasses because the prions get into the air and fall onto the soil, remaining infective. A lady who was a vegetarian acquired CJD by using dried blood to fertilize her roses.  She acquired the disease from the airborne blood particles that she inhaled.  Therefore, we cannot consider it safe to consume any meat products from animals that are fed parts of other dead animals. It is also wise to avoid white refined sugar, since bonemeal is used to whiten it. Many processed foods contain animal protein, such as dairy products or even vitamins which often come in gelatin capsules or contain lactose as an excipient.  One may wonder what is safe to eat.  It seems that safe meats likely include deep sea fish and land animals raised with a vegetarian diet, what are termed "natural" meats. When purchasing food items a few ideas to keep in mind are the following:

1. The area of the animal with the most prions is the brain and spinal cord, therefore hamburger meat is the worst, as it contains brain tissue. Hot dogs, sausages and the like are just as dangerous.

2.  As the prions are found in every part of the contaminated animal, the milk is also contaminated, therefore milk, cheese, and gelatin would also be contaminated.  This implies every gelatin coated capsule could contain prions.  As lactose, a product derived from milk, is used as an excipient to make most pills, those pills could be contaminated with the prions.  

3. Processed foods can be contaminated because they  contain milk or milk derivatives such as casein, whey, or cheese.  Gelatin is especially dangerous because the whole spinal column (vertebrae and spinal cord) is used to make it.

4. Wild animals may have BSE, as they may consume processed cattle feed or pet food. Birds such as chickens and turkeys may be infected with BSE but appear asymptomatic until death because they are slaughtered when they are 3-4 months old, too early to show symptoms.

5. Dog food and other pet food can be contaminated because downer cattle is often used to make the pet food.  Bird seed can also be contaminated when suet, an animal derivative, is used as a binder.

6. Soap can be a source for the infective prions because tallow ( animal fat)  is used to make it; lotions can be contaminated if lactic acid is used, which is derived from milk.

7. Other suspects are leather products such as shoes, furniture, wallets, etc.

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