[Marxism] Junk science alert: Human Mad Cow, variant CJD may be wide-spread in USA

Stuart Lawrence stuartlawrence at earthlink.net
Tue Feb 3 18:31:45 MST 2004


"We don't know exactly what's happening to the rate of CJD in this
country, in part because CJD is not an officially notifiable illness.
Currently only a few states have such a requirement. Because the Centers
for Disease Control (CDC) does not actively monitor the disease on a
national level, a rise similar to the one in Europe could be missed."

The Killer Among Us
Michael Greger, AlterNet
January 7, 2004

In October, 2001, 34-year-old Washington State native Peter Putnam
started losing his mind. One month he was delivering a keynote business
address; the next, he couldn't form a complete sentence. Once athletic,
soon he couldn't walk. Then he couldn't eat. After a brain biopsy showed
it was Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, his doctor could no longer offer any
hope. "Just take him home and love him," the doctor counseled his
family. Peter's death in October, 2002 may have been caused by mad cow
disease.

Seven years earlier and 5000 miles away, Stephen Churchill was the first
in England to die. His first symptoms of depression and dizziness gave
way to a living nightmare of terrifying hallucinations; he was dead in
12 months at age 19. Next was Peter Hall, 20, who showed the first signs
of depression around Christmas, 1994. By the next Christmas, he couldn't
walk, talk, or do anything for himself. Then it was Anna's turn, then
Michelle's. Michelle Bowen, age 29, died in a coma three weeks after
giving birth to her son via emergency cesarean section. Then it was
Alison's turn. These were the first five named victims of Britain's Mad
Cow epidemic. They died from what the British Secretary of Health called
the worst form of death imaginable, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a
relentlessly progressive and invariably fatal human dementia. The
announcement of their deaths, released on March 20, 1996 (ironically,
Meatout Day), reversed the British government's decade-old stance that
British beef was safe to eat.

It is now considered an incontestable fact that these human deaths in
Britain were caused by Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad
Cow disease. Bovine means "cow or cattle," spongiform means
"sponge-like," and encephalopathy means "brain disease." Mad Cow disease
is caused by unconventional pathogens called "prions" -- literally
infectious proteins -- which, because of their unique structure, are
practically invulnerable, surviving even incineration at temperatures
hot enough to melt lead. The leading theory as to how cows got Mad Cow
disease in the first place is by eating diseased sheep infected with a
sheep spongiform encephalopathy called "scrapie."

In humans, prions can cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a human
spongiform encephalopathy whose clinical picture can involve weekly
deterioration into blindness and epilepsy as one's brain becomes riddled
with tiny holes.

We've known about Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease for decades, since well
before the first mad cow was discovered in 1985. Some cases of CJD
seemed to run in families; other cases seemed to just arise
spontaneously in about one in a million people every year, and were
hence dubbed "sporadic." The new form of CJD caused by eating beef from
cows infected with Mad Cow disease, though, seemed to differ from the
classic sporadic CJD.

The CJD caused by infected meat has tended to strike younger people, has
produced more psychotic symptoms, and has often dragged on for a year or
more. The most defining characteristic, though, was found when their
brains were sampled. The brain pathology was vividly reminiscent of
Kuru, a disease once found in a New Guinea tribe of cannibals who ate
the brains of their dead. Scientists called this new form of the disease
"variant" CJD.

Other than Charlene, a 24 year old woman now dying in Florida, who was
probably infected in Britain, there have been no reported cases of
variant CJD in the U.S. Hundreds of confirmed cases of the sporadic form
of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, however, arise in the United States every
year, but the beef industry is quick to point out these are cases of
sporadic CJD, not the new variant known to be caused by Mad Cow disease.
Of course, no one knows what causes sporadic CJD. New research suggests
that not hundreds but thousands of Americans die of sporadic CJD every
year, and that some of these CJD deaths may be caused by eating infected
meat after all.

< . . . >

We don't know exactly what's happening to the rate of CJD in this
country, in part because CJD is not an officially notifiable illness.
Currently only a few states have such a requirement. Because the Centers
for Disease Control (CDC) does not actively monitor the disease on a
national level, a rise similar to the one in Europe could be missed. In
spite of this, a number of U.S. CJD clusters have already been found. In
the largest known U.S. outbreak of sporadic cases to date, five times
the expected rate was found to be associated with cheese consumption in
Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley. A striking increase in CJD over expected
levels was also reported in Florida and New York (Nassau County) with
anecdotal reports of clusters of deaths in Oregon and New Jersey.

full:
http://www.alternet.org/print.html?StoryID=17513







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