Biosolids Spreading Deadly Prions From Humans To Animals and Back To Humans
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is ravaging wildlife in many regions across North America. It’s now in Norway’s reindeer. Suffice it to say, sick deer didn’t jump the Atlantic Ocean to Norway. Sick wildlife are a canary in the proverbial coal mine. CWD is part of a larger epidemic of neurological disease that is killing people, wildlife and livestock around the world. The warning signals are being ignored. Although there are several ways for CWD to take hold and spread, the biggest threat is being ignored.
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, also known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). The operative word is “transmissible.”
Prusiner claims that all TSEs are caused by prions. 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. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease 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.
CWD is part of the TSE spectrum. Mismanagement of contagious pathogens associated with the disease are contributing to the epidemic. TSEs also include Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and mad cow disease. Few, if any, mammals are immune. There is no species barrier.
TSEs, including chronic wasting disease, are caused by a deadly protein called a prion (PREE-on). Prion disease is unstoppable. Prions defy all attempts at sterilization and inactivation.
Studies confirm that people and animals dying of prion disease contaminate the environment around them with prions because prions are in the urine, feces, blood, mucus and saliva of each victim. Victims often are contagious long before they appear sick. Prions linger in the environment and on objects infinitely. They migrate, mutate, multiply and kill with unparalleled efficiency. Because of the dynamics, Canada has declared CWD unstoppable. They’re right. Especially when we are dumping tons of infectious waste on farms, ranches, forests and beyond every day. Wildlife are contracting much of the disease from humans.
“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).”
A new study published in the journal Nature renews concern about the transmissibility of Alzheimer’s disease between people. A second study by the same scientist in early 2016 adds to the stack of evidence. Wastewater treatment plants are collecting points for prions from infected humans. The sewage treatment process can’t stop them, but they can serve as prion incubators and distributors.
Not only are homes and hospitals exposed to the prion pathogen, so are entire sewage treatment systems and their by-products. Wastewater treatment plants are prion incubators and distributors. The sewage sludge and wastewater released are spreading disease far and wide.
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.
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.
“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.”
Thanks to sewage mismanagement, prion diseases are killing humans, wildlife and livestock around the world today. As more and more people are contracting TSEs, sewage systems are more contaminated with prions than ever. Infectious waste is becoming more infectious every day.
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 it’s antiquated sludge rule crafted back in the dark ages. It does, however, consider prions a “emerging contaminant of concern.” Meanwhile, its outdated risk assessments are promoting a public health disaster.
“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.
Exposing crops and livestock to prions is a very bad idea. Plants absorb prions from the soil along with water and nutrient uptake, which makes the prions bioavailable and infectious to humans, wildlife and livestock via another pathway.
The prion problem is getting worse with rising populations, rising concentrations of people, intensive agriculture, reckless sewage disposal policies and other mismanaged pathways. As the epidemic strikes more people, the pathways for prion exposure explode and intensify. Reckless sewage disposal policies and practices alone are putting billions of innocent people in the crossfire right now. Entire watersheds are endangered thanks to a deadly pathogen that migrates, mutates and multiplies.
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.
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 two years ago. Keeping prions listed threatened to outlaw several multi-billion dollar industries. This reversal kept the floodgates open to the prion threat. Especially regarding sewage, agriculture and water reclamation industries.
Although there are many causes and pathways contributing to CWD and the prion disease epidemic, many pathways are being mismanaged around the globe. Thanks to sewage, biosolids, reclaimed sewage water and feedlot waste, we’re recycling the prion pathogen that causes neurological disease right back into our watersheds, which we share with deer, elk, moose, livestock and other creatures that are vulnerable to prion disease. Rain, wind and irrigation spread deadly prions further everyday. Healthy wildlife are being exposed to deadly prions and other toxins through food, water, air and contact with infected animals.
Every sewage system in the world has been used by a person, if not millions of people, with Alzheimer’s disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Sewage systems have become prion incubators. Biosolids, water reuse and sludge disposal have made them potent prion distributors. The waste from feedlots is likely contributing to the epidemic.
Prions spread uncontrollably and contaminate everything that they touch—much like radiation. Unlike radiation, however, prions do not deplete themselves. They migrate, mutate, multiply and kill with unparalleled efficiency. Each victim becomes an incubator and a distributor of the Pandora-like pathogen.
Although there are multiple causes of prion disease, including CWD, reckless policies are contributing to an environmental nightmare. Sick deer, elk, moose and other wildlife and marine life are just a symptom of a much bigger problem. Putting these pandora-like pathogens back in the box is impossible. Injecting them into the lifecycle is reckless and a form of bioterrorism.
Unfortunately, misinformation distributed by government agencies about the risks associated with chronic wasting disease are reckless, incompetent and criminally negligent at best. Claiming that there is no known risk associated with handling or consuming wildlife with CWD is laughable. Just look at the guidance issued regarding mad cow disease. Just look at the guidance issued to people with the most severe form of the disease–Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
The bodies of prion victims, regardless of species, are highly toxic and contagious. Hunting knives and saws used on sick wildlife are infected forever. Processing plants that cut and grind wildlife carcasses for hunters (before CWD tests are complete) are contaminated forever. Every animal processed after an infected carcass will become infected. Pickups and trailers that transport infected animals are hopelessly contaminated. The prion pathways created by one hunting trip can explode exponentially within hours.
Hunters should just walk away from a carcass that looks suspicious and one should treat all game that looks healthy as suspicious, until proven otherwise. Hunters that kill and dress deer with CWD expose themselves and their families to prion disease in many ways thanks to misinformation from state and federal regulators.
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 wastewater treatment facility. It’s ludicrous to think that treated sewage water or biosolids are prion-free. Especially since prions from people are much more infectious than those found in other species (prions become more aggressive as they work their way up the food chain).
It’s also ludicrous to think that game processing plants are prion-free. Regulations in this arena are criminal. Thousands, possibly millions, of innocent people have been exposed to the prions from someone else’s sick deer. That’s because many are processed before testing or no testing is done at all.
The EPA issued what it calls the Sludge Rule, which basically disclaims any responsibility for its risk assessments regarding biosolids. Even the EPA’s own internal audit found that the agency is dropping the ball on sewage regulation and management. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General (OIG) sewage regulations are weak, outdated and not enforced.
In September 2014, the OIG offered the following summary of its findings: “Management controls put in place by the EPA to regulate and control hazardous chemical discharges from sewage treatment plants to water resources have limited effectiveness. The EPA regulates hazardous chemical discharges to and from sewage treatment plants, but these regulations are not effective in controlling the discharge of hundreds of hazardous chemicals to surface waters such as lakes and streams. Sewage treatment plant staff do not monitor for hazardous chemicals discharged by industrial users. This is due to a general regulatory focus on the priority pollutants list that has not been updated since 1981, limited monitoring requirements, limited coordination between EPA offices, a lack of tracking hazardous waste notifications required for submittal by industrial users, or a lack of knowledge of discharges reported by industrial users under the Toxics Release Inventory. Except for EPA Region 9, sewage treatment plant permits generally include very few monitoring requirements or effluent limits, which can limit enforcement actions. The EPA developed whole effluent toxicity test results as a mechanism to identify toxic chemicals such as hazardous discharges to sewage treatment plants. However, these are not required for all permits, and are not tracked by the EPA to verify that sewage treatment plants are reporting results as required. Moreover, exceeding chemical limits in permits and toxicity tests do not trigger notification to enforcement programs. Consequently, the EPA may not be aware of chemical discharge or toxicity exceeding that should be addressed to minimize potentially harmful contamination of water resources.”
The TSE epidemic represents an environmental nightmare that threatens every mammal on Earth. Join us in our campaign to reform policies and practices around the world to promote food safety, wellness and reform. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic wasting disease and the prion disease epidemic is an area of special expertise. Please contact Gary Chandler to join our coalition for reform email@example.com.
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