Plan Ignores Source Of Prion Disease

Norway and the greater Scandinavian region are experiencing some of the highest rates of neurodegenerative disease in the world. The human epidemic is fueling a related epidemic among wildlife. Norway will slaughter hundreds of reindeer to tackle a mere symptom of a bigger problem. Mismanagement is pouring fuel on the fire in Norway and North America.

As explained below, many forms of neurodegenerative disease are infectious and contagious. In fact, many are known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). The operative word is “transmissible.” Norway’s sick reindeer are canaries in a coal mine and we all should pay attention.

Prion Science

Studies confirm that people and animals dying of TSE contaminate the environment around them with deadly prions (PREE-on), which are in the urine, feces, blood, mucus and saliva of each victim. Victims are contagious long before they appear sick. Prions don’t die because they aren’t alive. Prions migrate, mutate, multiply and kill with unparalleled efficiency. That’s why Norway wants to kill hundreds of reindeer—to keep them from generating and spreading infectious fluids. Meanwhile, Norway’s plan ignores a greater prion threat—they dump tons of infectious waste from humans on open spaces, farms and forests.

chronic wasting disease

The infected bodily fluids from millions of humans have turned wastewater treatment plants into incubators and distributors of deadly prions. Since Norway dumps about 90 percent of its sewage sludge on open spaces, this infectious waste is fueling a public health disaster. Norway and most other countries are recycling an aggressive brain disease back into the food chain with every load of sewage sludge dumped on forests, crops, parks and gardens. Millions of people are caught in the crossfire. So are reindeer and other mammals.

A prion is a deadly and unstoppable form of protein. Dr. Stanley Prusiner, an American neuroscientist from the University of California at San Francisco, earned a Nobel Prize in 1997 for discovering and characterizing prions and prion disease. President Obama honored Prusiner with the National Medal of Science in 2010. Unfortunately, Prusiner’s science is being ignored and we’re facing a public health disaster because of the negligence and the mismanagement of infectious waste.

Prusiner claims that all TSEs are caused by prions. He says that all TSEs are on the prion disease spectrum. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is at the extreme end of the spectrum and is highly infectious. It’s often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease, which is lower on the prion disease spectrum. Norway estimates that only half of its citizens with neurodegenerative disease are being diagnosed and even fewer are treated. Despite under-reporting, it’s still a top nation for Alzheimer’s disease.

prion disease spectrum

TSEs also include mad cow disease (BSE) in cattle and chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer. Few, if any, mammals are immune. There is no species barrier. Prions don’t discriminate.

CWD has ravaged deer, elk and moose in many regions across North America since it was first identified at a Colorado State University research facility in the 1960s. Now, CWD is in Norway’s reindeer and moose, which blows holes in the theories and containment plans across North America. Suffice it to say, sick deer didn’t jump the Atlantic Ocean, which means that other prion pathways are at work. These sick mammals are a canary in the proverbial coal mine. Although there are several ways for CWD to take hold and spread, government and stakeholders are ignoring the biggest prion pathway in the world—human sewage.


When the U.S. government enacted the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, it included a provision to halt research on prions in all but two laboratories. It classified prions as select agents that pose an extreme risk to food, water and more. It was a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, industry pressure convinced the Center For Disease Control to quietly take prions off the list of special agents a few years ago. Keeping prions listed threatened to outlaw several multi-billion dollar industries, including the biosolids and wastewater reclamation industries. This reversal kept the floodgates open to the prion threat. Especially regarding sewage, agriculture and water reclamation industries.

Because of prion dynamics, Canada declared CWD unstoppable. On the present path, they’re right. Especially when we dump tons of infectious waste on farms, ranches, in forests and beyond every day. Other mammals are contracting the disease from humans and they proceed to infect each other through their own bodily fluids.

Infectious Waste and Sewage Sludge

Human sewage in itself is a deadly cocktail, but wastewater treatment plants also receive tons of infectious waste from slaughterhouses, dental offices, clinics, hospitals, morgues, nursing homes, veterinarians and many other industrial sources. If it flushes, it’s in the waste stream. If it flushes, it’s being recycled on public and private land and throughout our watersheds. Such thinking is recycling brain disease and contributing to the surge in autism.

sewage sludge land application

According to neuroscientist Laura Manuelidis, at least 25 percent of Alzheimer’s diagnoses are wrong. These misdiagnoses are actually CJD, which is further up the prion spectrum. CJD, without dispute, is extremely infectious to caregivers, loved ones and entire communities. It’s drastically misdiagnosed and under-reported, which means that millions of highly infective people don’t even know that they have prion disease. Their caregivers don’t know it. Their families are not cautioned about transmissibility.

“There is now real evidence of the potential transmissibility of Alzheimer’s,” says Thomas Wiesniewski M.D. a prion and Alzheimer’s researcher at New York University School of Medicine. “In fact, this ability to transmit an abnormal conformation is probably a universal property of amyloid-forming proteins (prions).”

Each victim becomes an incubator and a distributor of the Pandora-like pathogen. Victims are contaminating their homes and hospitals with prions. The human prion is resistant to both heat and chemicals. Prions released from humans are up to a hundred thousand times more difficult to deactivate than prions from most animals. Prions shed from humans are the most aggressive mutation, which is why prions in sewage are so devastating to wildlife and humans alike. Potent prions are contaminating entire sewage treatment systems and their by-products, including biosolids and reclaimed wastewater. The sewage sludge and wastewater released are spreading disease far and wide.

Wastewater treatment plants are collecting points for prions from infected humans. The sewage treatment process can’t stop these proteins, which means that they are serving as prion incubators and distributors. When released back into the environment, prions kill again.

sewage sludge on land and disease

Norway dumps 90 percent of its infectious sewage sludge on land—a practice that it has promoted aggressively since the 1970s. One-third of it is applied on parks, sporting fields and roadsides, while two-thirds of the waste is dumped on farms as a sick form of fertilizer—full of deadly prions, carcinogens, pharmaceuticals and more. Norway conducted a new risk assessment for the land application of biosolids in 2009 (Eriksen, et al.), but it failed to account for prion risks.

Prions become more aggressive as they work their way up the food chain and back and forth among humans. Prions released from humans in sewage are extra-strength versions. Sick reindeer are proof. Norway won’t eradicate the prion problem by killing the deer.

Sludge Science

Claudio Soto, PhD, professor of neurology at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, and his colleagues again confirmed the presence of prions in urine. Soto also confirmed that plants absorb prions through the roots and become infectious and deadly to those who eat them. Therefore, humans, wildlife and livestock are vulnerable to prion disease via plants grown on land treated with sewage sludge and reclaimed wastewater water.

Prion researcher Dr. Joel Pedersen, from the University of Wisconsin, found that prions become 680 times more infectious in certain soils. Pedersen also found that sewage treatment does not inactivate prions. Therefore, prions are lethal, mutating, migrating and multiplying everywhere sewage is dumped. Most mammals don’t stand a chance.

“If prions enter municipal wastewater treatment systems, most of the agent would bond to sewage sludge, survive anaerobic digestion, and be present in treated biosolids,” Pedersen said.

“Land application of biosolids containing prions represents a route for their unintentional introduction into the environment. Our results emphasize the importance of keeping prions out of municipal wastewater treatment systems. Prions could end up in sewage treatment plants via slaughterhouses, hospitals, dental offices and mortuaries just to name a few of the possible pathways. The disposal of sludge represents the greatest risk of spreading prion contamination in the environment. Plus, we know that sewage sludge pathogens, pharmaceutical residue and chemical pollutants are taken up (absorbed) by plants and vegetables.”

The problem with prions is that they linger in the environment infinitely because they defy all attempts at sterilization and inactivation. Unlike viruses or bacteria, prions are not alive. Therefore, they can’t be killed.

Thanks to sewage mismanagement, prion diseases are killing humans, wildlife and livestock around the world. As more people are contracting TSEs, sewage systems are more contaminated with prions than ever. Infectious waste is becoming more infectious every day. Infectious waste is not fertilizer.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed that prions are in sewage and that there has been no way to detect or stop them. As such, the EPA has never issued guidance on prion management within, or beyond, wastewater treatment plants. Unfortunately, the EPA’s risk assessment on sewage sludge and biosolids were prepared before the world of science knew about prions. The agency continues to cling to its antiquated sludge rule crafted back in the dark ages. It does, however, consider prions an “emerging contaminant of concern.” Meanwhile, its outdated risk assessments are promoting a public health disaster.

If it’s impossible to stop prions in an operating room, it’s impossible to stop them in the challenging environment of a high-volume, low-tech wastewater treatment facility. It’s ludicrous to think that treated sewage water or biosolids are prion-free when the last line of defense in the most sophisticated systems is a little hydrogen peroxide.

“Since it’s unlikely that the sewage treatment process can effectively deactivate prions, adopting measures to prevent the entry of prions into the sewer system is advisable,” said the Toronto Department of Health, November 2004.

Read the rest of the story about chronic wasting disease in Norway

Earth News

Earth News is a division of Crossbow Communications. Earth News is a syndicated environmental news service. The company covers a variety of health and environmental issues, including biodiversity, chronic wasting disease, climate change, deforestation, endangered species, global warming, neurodegenerative disease, neurotoxins, wildlife conservation and more.