|By Robert Cohen Executive Director|
Is Mad Cow Disease in America?
Memorial Day marks the unofficial launch date for each summer's barbecue season. Ladies and gentlemen, start your grills. Yesterday, Memorial Day, May 26, 2003, I received this email letter from one of my readers in McBain, Michigan: "Rumor has it that there are 3 herds quarantined in the McBain, MI, area for mad cow, as of yet it is only a rumor but we are in a big dairy area." I subsequently spoke with that reader, three Mcbain dairy farmers, the wife of the Mayor of McBain, one McBain veterinarian, the editor of a dairy magazine, and a television producer friend. What I've learned has my head spinning. For the past five years, I have written a daily column on milk-related issues. I have missed very few days, and have built an enormous readership. Many thousands of people representing every state in America read the Notmilk letter. Of course, information travels two-ways on our worldwide electronic communications highway, so that if anybody was going to get a tip about America's first Mad Cow, I would represent as good a candidate as any to receive such information, I suppose. Nearly nine months ago, I asked: "Do we have Mad Cow Disease in America?" On September 4, 2002, I answered my own question based upon the evidence before me: "In my opinion, we do not." That's what I wrote. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/notmilk/message/1053 Yesterday, based upon new evidence, I have changed my opinion. Mad Cow Disease is now here in America. In 1907, Dr. Alzheimer published a treatise regarding a disease that would one day carry his name. He also mentored two young associates, Dr. Creutzfeldt and Dr. Jakob. They too identified a similar brain-wasting disease that now has Europe in a panic. The brains of cows turn into a sponge- like mass and their behavior is called "mad." The version of this disease affecting cows is called bovine spongiform encephalitis or BSE. The human variant of Mad Cow Diesease has been named Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease or CJD. The protein causing CJD has no DNA, and has been described as more like a crystal than cellular material. In labs, 1000 degree Fahrenheit heat does not destroy this protein particle. Some scientists say that once infected, the incubation period can last anywhere from one month to thirty years. As the human brain turns into a sponge, this spongiform encephalitic condition physically debilitates those so infected. Since the early 1900s, one out of one million people have naturally developed CJD, the human brain-wasting disease. Based upon that statistic, 280 Americans (out of our 280 million population) would be expected to be diagnosed with CJD in 2003. Due to the popularity of Mad Cow Disease, such a diagnosis has often been concluded by relatives laying blame upon infected deer, elk, or cows. THE DEFINING LINE Young people are not supposed to get CJD. This has traditionally been a disease occurring in people over age 60. England finally admitted that they had a problem after young people started dying from CJD. In a moment you will read about two men, both under thirty years of age, who have died in Michigan from CJD, the human version of Mad Cow Disease. Remarkably, both men were in the same Ann Arbor hospital. Up until now, young Americans have neither caught nor died from the disease. I doubt that the New York Times or 60 Minutes will report this news, for there is a powerful effort in America to keep Mad Cow Disease under wraps. When the story does hit front page status, Americans may panic much the same way people did in Britain. Many new vegetarians are waiting to be created by this revelation of animal disease. This is the key. The defining line. Young people. And so it has happened. Two Michigan men have gotten CJD. They have both died. One man was 28 years old, and the other 26. Both lived their entire lives in Michigan. Neither had traveled to England or any other nation with Mad Cow Disease, and neither had eaten wild deer or elk. The National Institutes of Health provided grant money to treat these men when they were alive, and then analyze their brains to confirm this pathology. The grant number was AG14359. The Michigan Alzheimer's Disease Research Center also provided support under NIH grant P50- AG0871. The American Academy of Neurology recently reported this (not-so well publicized) news at one of their conferences. For confirmation, contact Kathy Stone, telephone 651-695- 2763, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org If you or any friend or family member continues to eat beef, please share this information with them.
Robert Cohen, author of: MILK A-Z
Executive Director (email@example.com)
Dairy Education Board
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