Updated September 2002
A Bloody Debate
Vaccines Possibly at Risk
What Are They Eating?!
Dogs Said, No Thank You!
Cats, Dogs Scrapie & BSE
Think First, Then Bite
Prion Patties & Mystery Meat Pies
Imports Banned in Australia
When in Doubt, Throw it Out
Is My Food Safe?
Safety Measures in the Home
Down on the Farm
Jeff Rense's List of Animal
General Medical and Healthcare Products
Jeff Rense's List of Animal
General Food Products
Dear Family and Friends,
It's said that out of every bad comes some good and maybe that's the case for the Texas cattle scare last week. Perhaps it's taken a quarantine of our own cattle for BSE checks to shake people out of complacency.
A random national phone poll by ABC and the Washington Post of 1,513 adults surveyed between Jan. 11 and 15th revealed surprising results.
It showed that though 9 out of 10 Americans were aware of Mad Cow, only 44% were concerned about BSE showing up on American soil, 18% were "very concerned" and 26% were "somewhat concerned." A full 56% expressed little or no concern about BSE on their own turf.1
Well, let's hope you're right America. Let us pray - literally - that this disaster spreads no further, but gambling is a loser's game as the house always wins in the end. Stacking the cards in our favor means everyone abiding by the rules (hear that renderers and feedmills in America? - See Moo Madness - Part 3)
Charles Schroeder, chief executive of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association agrees, "If there are folks that don't understand the seriousness of the situation, they need to be brought to understand that."2
It means cutting out every possible venue by which this disease could enter our food chain. (Canada, America and Australia, you need to reread this last sentence.)
Though Canada insists their meat is "very, very, very safe," Mike McBane of the Canadian Health Coalition, an advocacy group in Ottawa, is convinced it's just a matter of time before mad cow crosses the Atlantic.3 He may be right unless we eliminate entirely any risk of Mad Cow entering the food chain and we're not doing it. We can not sanction half-baked efforts; only 100% compliancy is acceptable, ending loopholes, and everyone must do their part, even at the cost of businesses going under. The issue is too serious to do less.
Not only do Canada, America and Australia still permit feeding ruminants to ruminants - just disallows cannibalism - but the federal government continues to allow importation of Europe's goods containing bovine gelatin, blood meal and tallow products. You can almost hear Europe saying, "Bend over." Dr. David Westaway, a researcher at the University of Toronto says of countries who still import these products, "they are just asking for trouble."4
It's not that Europe means us harm, but if we're dumb enough to allow these imports, do you think they're going to decline? Doubtful, especially when the EU may be facing a cash crisis due to BSE panic as reported in the UK Independent yesterday. The EU is legally bound to purchase all unsold beef from its members putting Brussels in a squeeze play. This will be pricey as Germany's sales are down 50% with Greece, Italy and Spain at 40% losses. Sales have also plummeted 30% in Austria and Luxembourg, 25% in France and 20% in Belgium.5
(Following) "current BSE measures would cost an extra £2 billion this year, running to billions more if the rest of the world decides to ban EU beef products."6 Don't you think the EU would love to unload some of their yet non-banned products?
Germany must be figuring if they're in for a penny, they may as well go for the pound. Germany is getting ready to slaughter another 400,000 cattle costing an additional $350 million.7 Let's hope they do a better job at this than they do at careful and prudent slaughter. Brits found another 2" chunk of spinal column - one of THE most diseased areas of cattle - in German imported beef. This incident is either the second or third such violation in two weeks, depending on which source you read.8
Australia must be given kudos for taking the most BSE-preventative measures to date. This week a special committee of Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council discussed tougher laws preventing cattle being fed meat from pigs, horses and kangaroos. The results, if decided, have not yet been made public.
Australia still imports milk products, gelatin and tallow. These items have not been deemed safe beyond all question. They just have yet to be proved harmful. Not the same thing.
"OK, dealer, hit me, but aces only, (please?)" The best ace up our sleeve is to keep informed.
A BLOODY DEBATE
Officially, blood is safe yet most countries have banned blood donated by Britons and by others who have visited the UK between 1980 and 1996. Canada now includes all people from France in this ban as well.
More importantly - keeping in mind that blood is safe - as of January 17, 2001, the American Red Cross will ban blood from people who have lived anywhere in Western Europe since 1980. With the shortage of blood in America, this will decrease donors by 6% or 360,000 people. While the US as a whole has not taken such restrictive measures, that same week recommendations were made to the FDA to ban donors who have been long-term residents of France, Ireland and Portugal. Whew! Sure glad blood is not a problem!
Officially blood is safe but the Canadian Red Cross asked physicians to help identify would-be donors - with their consent - infected with CJD as of July 26, 1995.
Officially blood is safe yet nobody is biting the bullet saying you can't get CJD from tainted blood even though prions CAN show up in blood. It's supposedly safe, but a baby girl was born with CJD. "In utereo" unequivocally involves an exchange of blood where nvCJD infectious proteins travel from the mother's placenta to the child.
Officially blood is safe but blood recalls for supplies possibly tainted with CJD suggest otherwise.
Officially blood is safe, yet the US Congress has mandated that the CDC conduct a study to determine if CJD can be transmitted to humans by blood. This is currently underway.
One particularly interesting statement from ABC News January 16, 2001 caught our eye. "Although leading scientists believe it is carried in the blood, currently there is no blood test that will expose it."9 This is certainly more meaningful than them saying, "it's a possibility. . ." It further underscores why hemophiliacs are protesting their treatment in England. They're furious that for the third time in just over three years patients have been treated with blood clotting materials donated by a vCJD victim.10
Frrther supporting the danger of blood transmission are tests conducted in the UK. "Scientists say there is 'an appreciable risk' of people catching the human form of BSE through blood transfusions, a significant upgrading of the threat posed by the inevitably fatal disease. The results from tests on sheep, seen by the Guardian, suggest the danger is far more serious than first suspected. Previously the risk has been described by the government as 'theoretical'.One in six animals given blood from infected sheep appear to have caught the disease so far."10.5
And consider this information from Dr. Lynette J. Dumble of the University of Melbourne:
"Two neuroscientists from Yale University in the United States, Laura and the late Eli Manuelides, went on to illustrate by 1975 that injections of human blood, like injections of brain taken from kuru and CJD victims, transmitted the disease across the species barrier to laboratory animals.
"Their prophetic, but unheeded, message implied that blood was the vehicle that carried the agent of CJD around the body until it chanced upon a hospitable residence like the brain. This meant that the blood route was the key to the transmission of CJD from a primary host to secondary one. As distinct from infections such as influenza which is caused by an air-borne virus, but in parallel with AIDS and hepatitis B which are caused by blood-borne viruses, this indicated that recipients exposed to human pituitary gland hormone injections, or to blood organ transplants from a donor with CJD, risked becoming secondary CJD hosts once contagious material entered their blood stream. Similarly, as the UK government admitted on October 7, 1997, humans infected with the new variant of CJD coming from BSE-infected meat may spread their CJD via blood donation, thereby hastening the globalization of the mad cow disease dilemma."11
There is also the question of people donating blood or organs who are harboring CJD, but don't yet show symptoms. CJD can take up to 30 years to develop though cvCJD has much shorter incubation. The US is considering whether there should be restrictions against residents of the UK from donating organs.
Britain's blood clinics claim their product is safe since white blood cells are filtered out of blood donations. Those are cells thought most likely to be carrying the agent of nvCJD. Europe would be about the last place we'd choose to have an operation until blood has been given the all-clear. Apparently they agree as many tonsillectomies have been postponed since they are a highly CJD-infective part of the body.
This information published in the Lancet medical journal reveals, "We have shown that it is possible to transmit BSE to a sheep by transfusion with whole blood taken from another sheep during the symptom-free phase of an experimental BSE infection. BSE and nvCJD in human beings are caused by the same infectious agent, and the sheep-BSE experimental model has a similar pathogenesis to that of human nvCJD. Although UK blood transfusions are leucodepleted--a possible protective measure against any risk from blood transmission--this report suggests that blood donated by symptom-free nvCJD-infected human beings may represent a risk of spread of nvCJD infection among the human population of the UK."12
"In laboratory dish experiments, chronic wasting disease has been shown to infect human cells; in principle, hunters who ate infected deer or elk meat could have the disease and, if they donate blood, could pass it on."13 CWD has shown up in six Western states including Montana, Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming and Canada. Iowa, Illinois, Texas, and Wisconsin all had cases of CWD traced back to an infected herd from Nebraska. There is growing concern that hunters should be banned from donating blood - a topic being discussed by the FDA.
With so many variables and uncertainties, the best one can conclude is that the jury's still out on blood safety and TSEs.
In many Asian countries such as Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, they use a sheep-brain based shot against rabies called a Semple vaccine. Treatment consists of 10 daily injections into the abdomen, plus booster doses. The amount of sheep brain suspension is 5% of the shots which total 25 to 50 ml for the 10 days.
There is a theoretical risk of TSE transmission to humans through these abdominal shots. Although there is to date no evidence of such occurrences in human medicine, recent events show that an animal TSE agent could infect human beings.
The same situation applies with rabies vaccines for animals. In India, vets use the Semple vaccine for dog and "food production animals" each year. Scrapie could theoretically be transmitted to animals, especially ruminants, through sheep-brain based vaccines.
According to WHO, a recent publication strongly suggests that scrapie was transmitted to sheep and goats through the administration of a veterinary vaccine whose method of preparation is similar to the Semple type vaccine. In addition, various Asian countries have begun to use animal tissues as feed supplement for intensive sheep and dairy cattle production.
"This introduces an additional, though still theoretical, possibility that scrapie, or even BSE, could spread among the sheep population and enter the sheep flocks that are used as a source of rabies vaccine production for human or animal use."14
For several years, the FDA recommended manufacturers of vaccines not use bovine material from Europe, but recently it came to light that some companies ignored warning.
© Text and Graphics, 2001 Stan and Holly Deyo, except where otherwise credited