Update on MCD in Britian

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Note researchers did not make an abolute connection, just the most likely one. It is also thought MCD/BSE got onto other meats through the practice a cutting down the backbone which still contained the spinal cord. Now those must be removed before further processing. It has been documented CJD can be transmitted on surgical instruments even after they have been sterilized in an autoclave.

March 22, 2001

Five Britons' Mad Cow Deaths Traced to Butchering Methods


ONDON, March 21 An investigation into five deaths from the human form of mad cow disease in one English village concluded today that the cause was a traditional local butchery method of slaughter that permitted brain matter from diseased animals to contaminate meat.

The five people died between August 1998 and October 2000 in Queniborough in Leicestershire the largest cluster of victims from the same locality in an epidemic that has claimed 90 lives in Britain. There are five more confirmed cases of the incurable Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a brain-wasting malady that humans get from eating the meat of animals with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease.

Dr. Philip Monk, a consultant in public health for the Leicestershire Health Authority, said a nine-month study of farming and food supply in the area had found that the one detail common to all five cases was that the victims had consumed meat from one of four Main Street butchers who used small abattoirs that, unlike larger concerns, worked with carcasses that still had the animal's head attached to the body. Their slaughtering techniques included a step in which the skull was split open, and Dr. Monk theorized that brain matter from animals with mad cow disease passed to cuts of meat either through the use of the same knives, cleaning with the same cloth or placement on the same cutting board. He said the boning process was "extremely tricky and very messy" and that the brain membrane was gelatinous and difficult to keep from oozing out.

The local butchers were catering to a clientele who ate brains as a source of protein, a practice he said was common in Britain during the war but had become so rare with succeeding generations that the butchers in question gave up that part of their business by the mid- 1980's. The incubation period for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is thought to be between 10 and 16 years, and all five victims became infected between 1980 and 1991, the only time they lived in the area.

"These were traditional craft butchering practices carried out by people who were experts in their tradition," Dr. Monk said in defense of the shops involved. "None of them were illegal."

The practice of butchers' having contact with animal brains was banned in Britain in 1989, three years after mad cow disease was first identified here, and since 1996 whole heads of animals must be disposed of in slaughterhouses as specified risk material. The disease's capacity to produce the fatal disease in humans became known in 1996 and led to a three-year European Union worldwide ban on the export of British beef. It cost the country billions of dollars in lost business, and farmers were only just recovering from the crisis when the current foot-and- mouth disease outbreak began four weeks ago.

Dr. Monk discussed the subject at a town meeting in a rugby club in Queniborough, using overhead slides to outline how his team of investigators had reached their conclusions. Their search narrowed down to the butcher shops after discarding other possible causes including cattle feed, water supply, dentistry and body piercing.

Asked by a member of the audience what the likelihood was of other villagers' coming down with the disease, Dr. Monk said, "What we want people to take away from this meeting is that we are not able to say what will happen in the future except that the likelihood of this set of circumstances happening again is very, very small."

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), March 22, 2001


Mad Cow disease is a form of TSE, another form of TSE is CWD (chronic wasting disease) which according to the latest Field & Stream issue is affecting thousands of deer out west. The article is quite informative and even though we are in KY. my husband is having 2nd thoughts about deer-hunting this coming year or eating venison.What humans get from eating this diseased meat is the same as with Mad Cow Disease, it's called CJD(Creutzfeldt-Jakob) disease. Always fatal. Apparently a couple of people in the west have died from this and the suspicion is that they got it from venison. It's making us think twice about eating venison any more.

-- nobrabbit (conlane@prodigy.net), March 22, 2001.

Note the incubation period is am much speculation as anything else. There has been no significant rise in the annual number of vCJD cases in Britian. The U.S. imported beef from Britian prior to 1989. I still lean towards a separate trigger mechanism.

March 22, 2001

Human "Mad Cow" Incubation Period Could Be 30 Years


Filed at 11:12 a.m. ET

LONDON (Reuters Health) - The findings of the inquiry into a cluster of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) cases--the human version of mad cow disease--suggest the fatal disease has an average incubation period of 30 years and may claim thousands or tens of thousands more victims, a leading scientist warned on Thursday.

The inquiry report into five deaths in the English village of Queniborough, Leicestershire, blamed specific butchering methods for contamination of meat with bovine brain and estimated an incubation period of the disease between 10 and 16 years. The report was issued Wednesday.

But Professor John Collinge, a member of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC), which advises the government on mad cow disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), told BBC Radio: ``For me the main finding from this report is that the significant exposure appears to pre-date 1985.

``That sent a little chill down my spine, certainly. It fits with our estimates that we have been making of the likely incubation periods of BSE in humans.''

Professor Collinge, a specialist in prion protein diseases at St. Mary's Hospital, London, pointed out: ``The cases we are seeing at the moment are by definition those with the shortest incubation periods.'' Prions are the infectious proteins thought to cause both BSE and vCJD.

Therefore, the average incubation period could ``well be in the region of 30 years''.

He added: ``Unfortunately what follows from that, since the exposure of the population after 1985 was very much larger than that that preceded it, (is that) many more cases must be in the pipeline. ``We may see thousands, or tens of thousands.''

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), March 23, 2001.

I'm with Ken on the separate trigger mechanism. If BSE were truly an "epidemic," we would be seeing a lot more of it, and certainly in the USA as well. I say there may be other issues that trigger this disease in humans. I'm not ruling out contaminated beef as a source of exposure (this hasn't been proven but it hasn't been disproven either), but there has to be more to it than that. I say we need to calm down a bit about this. I lived through the BSE scare in Britain as we were expatriates over there in the late 90's. The media does a darn good job of scaring people. We need to know more before we jump the gun and quit all beef eating. For those that are very worried, eat organic. That is what I've been doing for years. It's better anyway.

-- amy (acook@in4web.com), March 23, 2001.

A seperate trigger may well be the key...but what trigger? After seeing the report on TV the other night, the incubation period for those girls couldn't have been 30 years...or even 15. And they say it is a "prion" cell that is the culprit, not a bacteria or virus. So why does it attack? We're doing the best we can, haven't been able to raise our own meat supply yet but will try to. Anyone know about the possibility of transfer thru poultry? They get meat by products in their feed too.

-- Deborah Bauderer (bearwaoman@Yahoo.com), March 23, 2001.


The body is full of prion proteins. Theory is something causes some to be become rogue, or rogue prions are injested. They latch onto healthy prions and turn them into rogues, which then go to in the geometric scale (1-2-4-8, etc.).

Likely most of the population of Britian was exposed to MCD, but so far few than 100 have either died of, or been dianosed (sp?) with, vCJD. And it has been over ten years. Something else has to be causing the susceptibility. One theory is organophosphates (a pesticide) can break down the immune system, allowing the rogue prions to do their thing.

I highly recommend Deadly Feasts by Richard Rhodes. I bought mine from www.half.com. Get the 1998 paperback edition since it includes an update.

P.S. I'd rather have vCJD than alzheimers. It's over with within a year.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), March 23, 2001.

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