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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 9/2/2005 1:48:27 PM EDT

New theory suggests mad cow disease may have come from humans

AP Medical Writer
LONDON (AP) -- A new theory proposes that mad cow disease may have come from feeding British cattle meal contaminated with human remains infected with a variation of the disease.

The hypothesis, outlined this week in The Lancet medical journal, suggests the infected cattle feed came from the Indian subcontinent, where bodies sometimes are ceremonially thrown into the Ganges River.

Indian experts not connected with the research pointed out weaknesses in the theory but agreed it should be investigated.

The cause of the original case or cases of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is unknown, but it belongs to a class of illnesses called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, or TSEs.

Such illnesses exist in several species. Scrapie is a TSE that affects sheep and goats, while chronic wasting disease afflicts elk and deer. A handful of TSEs are found in humans, including Kuru, Alper's disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or CJD.

All TSEs are fatal, untreatable and undiagnosable until after death. They are called spongiform encephalopathies because the diseases involve spongy degeneration of the brain.

The disease was not known to infect cows until 1986, when the first cases were noticed in Britain. About a decade later, a new permutation of CJD, which scientists dubbed variant CJD, started showing up in people there. Experts believe this new variant came from eating beef products infected with mad cow disease.

But where the cows got the disease remains a mystery.

The most popular theory is that cattle, which are vegetarian, were fed meal containing sheep remains, passing scrapie from sheep to cows, where it eventually evolved into a cow-specific disease. Another theory is that cows just developed the disease spontaneously, without catching it from another species.

However, a pair of British scientists now proposes the origin may be the bones of people infected with classical CJD, which they theorize ended up in cattle feed imported from South Asia.

Britain imported hundreds of thousands of tons of whole bones, crushed bones and carcass parts to be used for fertilizer and animal feed during the 1960s and 1970s. Nearly half of that came from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, said the scientists, led by Alan Colchester, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Kent in England.

"In India and Pakistan, gathering large bones and carcasses from the land and from rivers has long been an important local trade for peasants," the scientists wrote. "Collectors encounter considerable quantities of human as well as animal remains as a result of religious customs."

Hindus believe remains should be disposed of in a river, preferably the Ganges.

"The ideal is for the body to be burned, but most people cannot afford enough wood for a full cremation. ... Many complete corpses are thrown into the river," the scientists said, adding that the inclusion of human remains in animal bone material exported from the Indian subcontinent has been documented.

Britain was the main recipient of animal byproducts exported from India and Pakistan during the relevant period and was also a leader in feeding meat and bone meal to calves, they noted.

Finally, the similarities between the strains -- mad cow disease, classical CJD and variant CJD -- are sufficiently close to support the theory of a link among them, the authors argued.

"We do not claim that our theory is proved, but it unquestionably warrants further investigation," the scientists wrote.

Indian neuroscientists Susarla Shankar and P. Satishchandra of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bangalore, India, agreed the theory needs to be followed up, but urged caution.

"Scientists must proceed cautiously when hypothesizing about a disease that has such wide geographical, cultural and religious implications," they wrote in a critique published in the journal.

Relatives of people who die of suspected CJD are persuaded to bury their dead or cremate them, the two said. In most hospital-related deaths, bodies are not taken to Varanasi, the holy city on the banks of the Ganges, but cremated or buried nearer to home.

"Even in Varanasi, most Hindus do not put half-burnt bodies into the river," they wrote, adding that if bodies found in the Ganges did have CJD, there should have been a major epidemic of the disease in north India.

"Facts to support or refute their hypothesis now need to be gathered with urgency and great care," the Indian scientists said.

Link Posted: 9/2/2005 1:57:05 PM EDT
OK, who has been doing the cows???

Link Posted: 9/2/2005 1:58:40 PM EDT
So if humans had it first and gave it to cows, how did humans get it? Cows?
Link Posted: 9/2/2005 2:00:31 PM EDT

Originally Posted By SNorman:
So if humans had it first and gave it to cows, how did humans get it? Cows?

Yea what he said!
Link Posted: 9/2/2005 2:03:05 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/2/2005 2:03:48 PM EDT by Max_Mike]
Helen Thomas… carrier?

Link Posted: 9/2/2005 2:06:50 PM EDT
The prions that cause the disease are damn tough mother fuckers. They dont die very easily. Heat, cold, time, nothing will kill them. Even buried for several years the prions will still be in the soil.
Link Posted: 9/2/2005 2:18:04 PM EDT

Originally Posted By thompsondd:
OK, who has been doing the cows???

Win_88? Cows? Now its cows???

Its bad enough I have to keep you away from my dog........

Link Posted: 9/2/2005 2:23:58 PM EDT
That's interesting. The most plausible theory I have seen is that that Mad Cow (spongiform encephalopathies), comes from eating your own species. For decades, left-over cow parts were mixed in with the cattle grain and fed back to cows (they stopped doing this recently). It makes sense that nature may have a defense trigger to keep species from wiping out themselves by eating their own. So if you continue to eat your own for a certain period, you get a disease and die because you are considered by nature to be violating the laws of nature, which is to propagate the species.

I personally feel that common dementia may be caused from mild cases of spongiform encephalopathies, that is caught from eating infected meat that has minute amount of meat from a cow that had very early stages of mad cow. I think it's alot more common than people realize as the US doesn't test cattle to the extent they should. Basically a cow in the US is not tested for Mad Cow unless it can't walk. Common sense tells you that cows with early stages of mad cow disease are getting through the system and onto Americans dinner plates.
Link Posted: 9/2/2005 2:24:26 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/2/2005 2:25:40 PM EDT by warlord]
Hmmm. I often wondered what happens to all those bodies that they drop into the Ganges Rivers. Some enterprising Indian recovered the bodies and sold them to the feed companies, and the feed companies turned them into cattle meal.

This reminds me of the Charlton Heston movie Soylent Green.
Link Posted: 9/2/2005 2:42:04 PM EDT

Originally Posted By NH_AR_Shooter:

Originally Posted By thompsondd:
OK, who has been doing the cows???

Win_88? Cows? Now its cows???

Its bad enough I have to keep you away from my dog........


Wow.... That cow shure do look purrdy to mee..

Those lips rally turns mee on..Yawl know.

Link Posted: 9/2/2005 2:46:08 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Max_Mike:
Helen Thomas… carrier?

That face could kill a prion.
Link Posted: 9/2/2005 3:02:55 PM EDT

Which Mad Cow looks better?

T'Nuk or Helen Thomas?

Link Posted: 9/2/2005 3:06:07 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/2/2005 3:32:27 PM EDT
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