Prion Disease Never Isolated
Mad cow disease has again raised its ugly head in the United States. Thanks to misinformation and mismanagement by government, the problem will persist.
Government and industry representatives announced yesterday that an 11-year-old beef cow in Alabama tested positive for prion disease. Also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease, the disease is always fatal and it’s a major concern for producers and consumers alike.
It was detected after the cow showed clinical signs of sickness at an Alabama livestock market. This animal never entered slaughter channels and at no time presented a risk to the food supply, or to human health in the United States, the U.S.D.A. said. Unfortunately, this producer did attempt to sell a very sick animal to an unsuspecting buyer. He obviously has a farm or ranch that is contaminated. The sick animal added to the contamination on the farm with its urine, feces and saliva. It also infected the livestock auction site. Sun and oxygen do not deplete prions. In fact, prions mutate and multiply in some soil and migrate away via the wind and water runoff. Prions are an environmental nightmare because they represent a public health nightmare.
The Problem With Prions
Each prion victim is a symptom of a much bigger threat to food safety, water quality and public health. Prion disease has been detected in livestock around the world. Of the five confirmed occurrences of BSE in cattle in the United States, this is the second in Alabama., but the vast majority of beef and dairy cattle are not tested thanks to intense lobbying from cattle producers and food companies.
Unfortunately, livestock producers, farmers and other landowners are being duped into a false sense of security and many are unwittingly participating in high-risk production practices that expose livestock, wildlife and people to deadly prions. To purge the threat of prion disease from the food supply, it’s time to manage prion pathways like we handle all biohazards. It’s time for government agencies to stop spreading misinformation and stop promoting risky production practices, including the dumping of infectious waste on farms, ranches, golf courses, parks and playgrounds.
Cities are now dumping their highly infectious sewage sludge, also known as biosolids, on open land across the U.S.—especially in rural areas. It’s bioterrorism. It’s fueling the spike in Alzheimer’s disease, autism, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic wasting disease and mad cow disease. It’s also fueling cancer, endocrine disruption and more.
A Spectrum Disease Among Mammals
Neurodegenerative disease, including prion disease, is the fastest-growing cause of death in the world. Misinformation and mismanagement are fueling the epidemic among people and wildlife. Unfortunately, we have no idea how pervasive the disease is among livestock because 99.9 percent of the animals are not tested, even though many are being exposed to prion contamination on a daily basis. Infected animals are contagious long before they start to stumble, drool and fall down. Therefore, our food and water supplies are at risk.
The technical term for prion disease is transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). The operative word is “transmissible.” In addition to mad cow disease, TSE includes scrapie in sheep and chronic wasting disease in deer, elk, moose and reindeer. TSE has been found in many mammals, including dolphins, cats, mink and elephants. It’s likely killing whales, dolphins and other sea mammals, since most mammals appear to be vulnerable to deadly prions.
In humans, TSEs are known as Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) and kuru. There is little, if any, difference because prion disease is a spectrum disease that’s only distinguished by the severity of symptoms. Diagnoses are usually a shot in the dark based only on visible symptoms.
Dr. Stanley Prusiner, an American neuroscientist from the University of California at San Francisco, earned a Nobel Prize in 1997 for discovering and characterizing deadly prions and prion disease. He claims that all TSEs are caused by prions–a deadly and unstoppable form of protein that migrates, mutates, multiplies and kills with unparalleled efficiency.
President Obama awarded Prusiner the National Medal of Science in 2010 to recognize the importance of his research. According to Prusiner, TSEs all are on the same disease spectrum, which is more accurately described as prion (PREE-on) disease. CJD is at the extreme end of the spectrum. Prusiner’s science is being ignored and we are facing a public health disaster because of the negligence.
Despite Dr. Prusiner’s crowning achievement, he has remained too silent on policies and practices that are contributing to the spread of prions in our daily lives. Government and industry spokesmen have stepped forward to cast smoke and mirrors over productive conversations about reforms to protect public health. Despite attempts to gag and censor Prusiner and other prion scientists, they have painted the landscape of the problem. It’s up to critical thinkers to connect the dots and demand change.
For example, Jimmy Holliman, a spokesperson for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association went on record to say that BSE is not contagious. That’s the equivalent of saying that an infectious disease is not infectious. The comment demonstrates incompetence, negligence or contempt.
“USDA’s ongoing BSE surveillance program has tested more than one million cattle since the program began,” Holliman said. “The incidence of BSE in the United States is extremely low, and will remain so.”
That’s quite an admission. It only takes one infected animal to create a perpetual prion pathway that will infect live animals, carcasses at the slaughterhouse, meat markets and kitchens.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I worked for the National Cattlemen’s Association, the predecessor of Holliman’s organization, between 1988 and 1992. My father worked in the meat industry all of his life. I grew up in rural Colorado with many beef and dairy producers. I’m not an enemy of the beef industry. I’m trying to lead them out of this mess before government lies explode in their face (keep reading).
Prion disease is a complex topic. Even the world’s top scientists don’t fully understand the dynamics, yet. All that we need to know is that prions + pathways = victims:
- Prions: Impossible to neutralize completely in laboratory or surgical setting. Even more impossible to halt in the open-air experiments that are taking place all around us.
- Pathways: The key to prion management is pathway management. The bodily fluids, feces and cell tissue of prion victims are highly infectious. Prion victims (especially people) contaminate the world around them. Although prions can migrate via many pathways, some of the largest and most obvious threats are being ignored. We examine the major pathways below.
- Victims: If we know that we have prions and pathways, there will be victims—an endless supply of victims will spawn new mutations and new pathways.
First of all, prion disease is prion disease. There are now thousands of mutations of prions. No two cases of prion disease are identical because some prions are more aggressive and pervasive than others. It also depends on which region of the brain is impacted first.
The best way to refer to this spectrum of maladies is just “prion disease.” It makes it much easier to keep score and cut through the misinformation. There is no evidence of a species barrier, but some species appear to be more resistant than others. Some people are more resistant to prions than others.
Since prions migrate, mutate and multiply, any official attempt to characterize prion disease as a non-event is reckless, incompetent and fraudulent. There are now thousands of prion mutations–not just two or three. The mutations are becoming more aggressive and more lethal every day as they spread throughout our world (naturally and unnaturally). Victims are getting younger and younger.
People and animals dying of prion disease contaminate the environment around them with the prions in their urine, feces, blood, mucus and saliva. It spreads throughout the entire body. Each victim becomes an incubator and a distributor of the Pandora-like pathogen.
Not only are homes and hospitals exposed to the prion pathogen, so are entire sewage treatment systems and their by-products (wastewater reclamation and sewage sludge). The human prion is resistant to both heat and chemicals. It’s reported that prions released from people are up to a hundred thousand times more difficult to deactivate than prions from most animals. Sewage from hospitals, nursing homes, slaughterhouses, morgues, mortuaries, veterinarians and other high-risk places enters the same sewage system. Wastewater treatment plants can’t detect or neutralize deadly prions.
Industry spokesmen are again trying to calm the minds and markets around the world. The official story is that the animal had an “atypical” form of the disease, which is one of many red flags regarding the misinformation and mismanagement of prion disease.
As stated earlier, prions can migrate via many pathways. Unfortunately for us all, some of the largest and most obvious prion threats are being ignored. In fact, I argue that humans, wildlife and livestock are exchanging prions back and forth now via food, water and air. The primary pathway is infectious waste from humans that is dumped on open spaces (more detail ahead).
TSE among humans is much more prevalent than government and industry admit. However, just like the example with cattle above, it only takes one prion victim to spread the contamination far and wide. Unfortunately, we have had millions of people in the U.S. alone who have TSE or have died of it over the past century.
As stated earlier, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and Alzheimer’s disease are both part of the prion spectrum. Without dispute, CJD is highly infectious and extremely aggressive. It’s much more prevalent than reported. In fact, it’s now killing teenagers.
“Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease behaves like Alzheimer’s disease on steroids,” said Dr. Jennifer Majersik, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Utah.
According to neuroscientists Dr. Laura Manuelidis, at least 25 percent of those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease actually have CJD, which is further up the prion spectrum. Millions of cases of deadly CJD are being misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease. None of these patients are being quarantined, which means that they are putting family, caregivers and entire communities at risk. It appears that the milder version, Alzheimer’s disease, is equally infectious.
“There is now real evidence of the potential transmissibility of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Thomas Wiesniewski M.D. a prion and Alzheimer’s researcher at New York University School of Medicine.
A study published in the journal Nature adds to the evidence about the transmissibility of Alzheimer’s disease between people. A second study in early 2016 added to the claim. Meanwhile, there is absolutely no evidence to contrary.
Millions of victims, past and present, have discharged millions of gallons of infectious waste down toilets and drains. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed that prions are in sewage and that there has been no way to detect them or stop them. As such, the EPA has never issued guidance on prion management within 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.
The sewage from these victims has permanently contaminated wastewater treatment plants. In fact, these wastewater treatment plants have become prion incubators and distributors. If hospitals can’t stop prions in the sterile confines of an operating room, prions are unstoppable in high-volume, low-tech sewage treatment facilities. Unfortunately, this infectious waste is pumped and dumped into our watersheds, including farms, ranches, golf courses, parks and school grounds in mass quantities. It’s killing people and animals in many ways.
The U.S. EPA used fraudulent risk assessments, which are now outdated and totally worthless in the face of the modern sewage stream. The agency has shown no interest in conducting a real risk assessment since it worked so hard to fake the science with its “sludge rule.” The sludge rule ignores prions, but includes the word “magic” as if it’s a technical term.
When the U.S. government enacted the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, it classified prions as select agents that pose an extreme risk to food, water and much more. Only two labs in the U.S. were allowed to handle them for research purposes. Unfortunately, the CDC quietly took prions off the list because the regulation criminalized entire industries and several reckless practices.
Many factors are contributing to the epidemic. Prions are now the X factor. Industry and government are not accounting for prions or regulating them. They are ignoring the threat completely, which violates the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 in the United States. Other nations also are ignoring laws developed to protect food, air and water.
Wastewater treatment plants, for example, are spreading this infectious waste far and wide because they are incapable of stopping prions. All by-products and discharges from wastewater treatment plants, including biosolids, are infectious waste, which are contributing to the global epidemic of neurodegenerative disease among humans, wildlife and livestock.
Sewage treatment plants can’t detect or stop prions. Just ask the U.S. EPA and the industry trade organization—the Wastewater Effluent Federation. Sewage sludge (biosolids) and wastewater reclamation are causing widespread contamination. 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 a “contaminant of emerging concern.” Meanwhile, it’s promoting a public health disaster, including Alzheimer’s disease, autism and the ill effects associated with the Zika virus.
Claudio Soto, PhD, professor of neurology at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, and his colleagues confirmed the presence of prions in urine. Soto also confirmed that plants uptake prions and are infectious and deadly to those who consume the infected plants. Therefore, humans, wildlife and livestock are vulnerable to prion disease via plants grown on land treated with sewage sludge and reclaimed sewage water. Therefore, humans, wildlife and livestock are vulnerable to prion disease via plants grown on land treated with sewage sludge and reclaimed sewage water. It’s more than theory. Wildlife contracts the deadly brain disease from people because of the dumping of infectious waste on farms, ranches and forests. Deer, elk, moose and reindeer are now contracting prion disease from humans. To help cloak the wildlife epidemic, it’s called chronic wasting disease (CWD). Deer with CWD are proverbial canaries in a coal mine. They are being killed by government sharpshooters to help cover up the problem. It’s insane.
Once unleashed on the environment, prions remain infectious. They migrate, mutate and multiply as they infect crops, water supplies, wildlife, livestock, sea mammals and humans. According to prion researcher Joel Pedersen at the University of Wisconsin, prions in soil become up to 680 times more infectious. From there, they migrate, mutate and multiply. Pedersen also found that sewage treatment does not inactivate prions. These unstoppable, deadly proteins represent a real-world version of Pandora’s Lunchbox.
“Our results suggest that 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 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 by plants and vegetables.”
“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.
Background On Municipal Sewage Sludge
In 1972, world leaders admitted that dumping highly toxic sewage sludge into the oceans killed entire underwater ecosystems and threatened public health. Some nations stopped the dumping immediately and started dumping it on land or burning it in incinerators. The most responsible cities started putting sewage sludge in landfills. Meanwhile, the United States allowed cities to keep dumping sewage sludge at sea for another 20 years. It finally passed the Ocean Dumping Ban Act of 1988, when beaches along the east coast were forced to close because of high levels of pathogens from sewage that washed up on shore.
The law prohibited all dumping of industrial waste and municipal sewage sludge into our oceans after December 31, 1991. It did nothing however, to keep cities such as Boston and Los Angeles from dumping millions of gallons of raw sewage directly into the oceans every day, but with the help of the U.S. EPA, the Act did redirect millions of tons of deadly toxins and pathogens from our oceans to farms, ranches, national forests, city parks, golf courses, playgrounds, fair grounds, race tracks, sport fields and beyond. From there, the pathogens began contaminating food, water and air as they were soaked up by crops, swept away by rainwater and picked up by windstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes and dumped on innocent citizens where they live, work and play. The runoff still contaminates our oceans after it filters through our creeks, lakes and rivers.
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.