Yesterday it was announced that a dairy cow in California tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) also known ubiquitously as mad cow disease. It was the 4th cow in the U.S. to test positive. Two months ago two Californians were found to have Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease – another type of Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. Neither of these cases are thought to have been caused by eating infected cattle.
Mad cow is a nasty disease that basically makes the brain into swiss cheese and it can be passed on through eating a sick animal. When humans eat an infected cow they can develop variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). Both are caused by errant proteins called prions. Unfortunately heat doesn’t destroy the prions so even eating cooked meat won’t make it safe. What’s even scarier is that it can take up to 10 years before you show symptoms of being sick. By then who knows how many other people could have been infected considering one cow can be spread across thousands of products.
The cow found in California is said to have had atypical BSE which means it *probably* didn’t get it through feed and since it didn’t enter the food system we won’t have to worry about that specific cow sickening hundreds or even thousands of people. However, only 1,000-2,000 animals a year are tested for this disease so finding this one was simply a stroke of luck.
The first cow back in 2003 to be infected with BSE actually entered our food system. Fortunately the beef was recalled in time before people ate it. The second cow was from Texas. Most of the cows from the herd that #2 came from were slaughtered and had already entered our food system. In addition proper records were not kept on the animals and so many became untraceable. The third cow’s herd was never found.
What has made BSE such a problem is that we are feeding ruminants food they aren’t meant to eat – other ruminants. The mad cow outbreak in the UK likely started when a cow with a spontaneous form of BSE or a scrapie-infected sheep was processed into cattle feed. One animal – that’s all it took to infect 184,500 animals in the UK through to 2010. Why in the world are we even thinking about feeding animals to herbivores though? That’s the big question here.
The US finally decided to create an enhanced feed ban in 2009 that simply bans mammals to be fed to ruminants and that the brains and spinal cords of animals over 30 months of age will not be used for any feed whatsoever. As stated earlier it can take up to 10 years for BSE to show itself so there may still be animals out there that are infected.
I can’t say this enough. Know your farmer and only eat grass fed and finished beef.
4 thoughts on “Feeding Ruminants to Ruminants”
” Two months ago two Californians were found to have Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease – the human version of BSE”…We lost a family member to (presumed) iatrogenic CJD a few years ago. Just to be clear, CJD is NOT considered ‘human BSE’ per se. It is a prion disease, but it’s vCJD that is considered to be acquired directly from infected cattle. The non variant form is thought to be acquired through blood products, or procedures like corneal transplantation. I still can’t donate blood here because I was living in England when the mad cow situation there was running amok.
I do agree, that we are not doing enough to look for BSE in cattle, and I’ve felt that way for years. It’s here, but if we don’t look for it, too hard, we won’t find much of it, although I’m interested to hear more about this specific case as details are released, as it’s a particularly rare form.
When will you be “cleared” to donate again?
Never, even though I’ve lived in California for almost 30 years, because vCJD can’t be detected in blood, and there’s limited evidence it can be transmitted via transfusion. According to the American Red Cross:
“You are not eligible to donate if:
From January 1, 1980, through December 31, 1996, you spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time of 3 months or more, in the United Kingdom (UK), or From January 1, 1980, to present, you had a blood transfusion in any country(ies) in the (UK)[and other affected countries].”
This of course also applies to military personnel that were stationed overseas at that time. Unless a definitive test is developed to clear individuals such as myself, we won’t be permitted to donate blood.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center Cases Examined1 (August 19, 2011) including Texas
OIE says the animal was sub-clinical ;
also, officials have confirmed it was a atypical L-type BASE BSE.
I am deeply disturbed about the false and terribly misleading information that is being handed out by the USDA FDA et al about this recent case of the atypical L-type BASE BSE case in California. these officials are terribly misinformed (I was told they are not lying), about the risk factor and transmissibility of the atypical L-type BASE BSE. these are very disturbing transmission studies that the CDC PUT OUT IN 2012. I urge officials to come forward with the rest of this story.
It is important to reiterate here, even though this animal did not enter the food chain, the fact that the USA now finds mad cow disease in samplings of 1 in 40,000 is very disturbing, and to add the fact that it was an atypical L-type BASE BSE, well that is very disturbing in itself. 1 out of 40,000, would mean that there were around 25 mad cows in the USA annually going by a National herd of 100 million (which now I don’t think the USA herd is that big), but then you add all these disturbing factors together, the documented link of sporadic CJD cases to atypical L-type BASE BSE, the rise in sporadic CJD cases in the USA of a new strain of CJD called ‘classification pending Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease’ cpCJD, in young and old, with long duration of clinical symptoms until death. the USA has a mad cow problem and have consistently covered it up. it’s called the SSS policy. …
see full text with updated transmission studies and science on the atypical L-type BASE BSE Jan. 2012 CDC. …
***Oral Transmission of L-type Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in Primate Model
***Infectivity in skeletal muscle of BASE-infected cattle
***feedstuffs- It also suggests a similar cause or source for atypical BSE in these countries.
***Also, a link is suspected between atypical BSE and some apparently sporadic cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.
now, for the rest of the story, the most updated science on the atypical BSE strains, and transmission studies…
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Update from USDA Regarding a Detection of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States WASHINGTON bulletin at 04/26/2012 10:11 PM EDT
I lost my mom to the hvCJD, ‘confirmed’ DOD 12/14/97, and just made a promise. …
Terry S. Singeltary Sr. Bacliff, Texas USA 77518 firstname.lastname@example.org
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