Public Policies Reckless Regarding Prion Pathogen

When it comes to mad cow disease, I never thought that I would defend the cattle and dairy industries, but they need some help–and we all need their help to solve a much bigger problem.

The bad news is that a Texas man recently died from a highly publicized case of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). Compounding the problem, every time a person or animal dies of prion disease, the cloak of secrecy goes up and bullshit drowns out productive conversations on a very deadly epidemic sweeping the world.

The epidemic is more widespread than anyone knows. Physicians are withholding millions of diagnoses from patients and their families. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, physicians in the U.S. only inform 45 percent of patients about their Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The same suppression is likely at work in most countries. Meanwhile, millions more go undiagnosed and misdiagnosed. Unfortunately, misinformed caregivers, family members, healthcare workers and others are caught in the crossfire of a deadly contagion known as a prion.

Nobel Prize Stanley Prusiner and prion disease

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.” President Obama awarded Prusiner the National Medal of Science in 2010 to recognize the importance of his research. Unfortunately, Prusiner’s science is being ignored and we all are facing a public health disaster because of the negligence and reckless disregard for public health.

TSE is a spectrum disease also known as prion disease. The spectrum includes Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and an extremely aggressive version known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Prusiner claims that all forms of TSE are caused by infectious proteins known as prions (PREE-ons). The prion spectrum varies in severity. It also varies depending on which region of the brain is impacted first. When the presenting symptom is memory loss, the diagnoses flow along the following chart.

prion disease spectrum

It’s not known which patients with brain disease become infectious or when, but both CJD and Alzheimer’s patients are being mismanaged. Informed neurologists won’t touch patients with these symptoms because of the risk of transmission. They are making diagnoses from across the room.

“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 Alzheimer’s diagnoses are not Alzheimer’s disease. These misdiagnoses are actually CJD, which is further up the prion spectrum. CJD, without dispute, is extremely infectious to caregivers and loved ones but it has not been declared a reportable disease in the U.S. and many other nations. Millions of cases of deadly CJD are being misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease. Millions of patients and caregivers are being misinformed, misguided and exposed to an aggressive disease. Misdiagnosis and misinformation regarding prion disease is a matter of life and death. The disease is now striking young people, including teenagers, with much greater frequency. It’s also killing clusters of people in the same communities with greater frequency. The mismanagement doesn’t end here.

Studies confirm that people and animals dying of prion disease contaminate the environment around them because infectious prions are in the urine, feces, blood, mucus and saliva of each victim. These infectious bodily fluids are contributing to the rapid spread of Alzheimer’s and other mutations of prion disease.

Caregivers and other stakeholders are caught in the crossfire of misinformation and  mismanagement. At the most basic level, this means that a sneeze, a drinking glass and eating utensils are permanent pathways of disease transmission. Anything that ever comes into contact with the bodily fluids of a victim is impossible to sterilize.

On a larger level, it means that entire communities and watersheds are at risk of permanent contamination from just a single victim, not to mention thousands of infectious victims. Alzheimer’s disease is an environmental nightmare–it’s a real-world version of Pandora’s box.

Contrary to industry and government statements, contaminated beef and dairy herds are not the only possible pathway to contract prion disease. And contaminated feedstock is not the only way for livestock, wildlife and humans to contract the disease. Pathways are numerous and they are expanding daily. We must expand the conversation to productive ground.

chronic wasting disease caused by sewage sludge

We need to cease the robotic response every time someone dies from the most ferocious forms of prion disease. Contrary to these spokesmen, food sources in Europe are not the only source of prion disease. We are mismanaging prions in so many ways that this person could have contracted the disease in surgery, from a blood donation, at the dentist office, at a restaurant and even from a family member at home. The list goes on.

Secondly, since the livestock industry is so concerned with food safety and consumer health, please join us as we seek reform on other prion pathways that threaten your herds, your income and your family’s health. If you are raising livestock and crops on land that has been treated with biosolids and reclaimed sewage water, please stop the practice immediately. Not only is it a proven prion pathway into food and water supplies, it may lead to condemning your land once the hazard is fully disclosed. Cattle and wildlife can contract prions from sewage on the soil. It’s one of the ways that that chronic wasting disease is being contracted and spread among deer in places such as Wisconsin and Colorado. The same pathway threatens Wisconsin’s multi-billion dollar dairy industry and the hunting industries in both states and beyond. The prions can run off into the creek, pond, rivers, lakes and oceans. They can end up on your plate or in your tap thanks to many possible pathways.

biosolids fertilizer dangerous

The practice of putting biosolds on crops, pastures and parks is far from safe and the EPA has never issued a ruling because it would be criminal to do so. They know that prions are in sewage thanks to people who have the diseases. They know that prions are unstoppable, especially in the token treatment environment of a sewage plant (holy water probably gets more treatment). The EPA and industry know that prions are undetectable in the input or the output of a sewer plant, yet they stand by and allow the practice to be sanctioned by states and counties. Again, any regulator or policymaker that allows these practices and promotes them is either incompetent, negligent or criminal. They are willing to play Russian roulette with your life and your family’s.

Finally, we all should be highly concerned over this death and the handling of the case and the information. To avoid bogging down the conversation, let’s hold off on the discussion of how this man got sick. That’s where the discussion always gets lost. Let’s talk about the man himself. The truth is that this man exposed everything in his path for quite a while. Those pathways are impossible to sterilize and they are still spreading the deadly disease today. Victims are infectious long before they start to stumble in life. The same can be said for other victims of prion disease, so we urge you to arm yourself with facts not fiction. Demand the truth and accountability.

More than 50 million people around the world are dying from prion disease today–mostly under the name of Alzheimer’s disease. Despite a rapid death rate, that number will triple soon.

Canada has declared prion disease unstoppable in wildlife. The truth is that all prion diseases are unstoppable and incurable. There isn’t time for lies and half-truths as prions are migrating, mutating and multiplying in various environments around the world. Contrary to public reports, there is not an isolated case of prion disease.

The Official Statement From The Texas Department Of State Health Services:

Confirmed Variant CJD Case in Texas: Lab tests have confirmed a diagnosis of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) in a patient who recently died in Texas. Variant CJD is a rare, fatal brain disorder, first described in 1996 in the United Kingdom and associated with beef consumption overseas. This is the fourth case ever reported in the United States. In each of the three previous cases, infection likely occurred outside the United States, including the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia. The history of this fourth patient includes extensive travel to Europe and the Middle East, and infection likely occurred outside the United States. The CDC and DSHS continue to investigate the case. There are no Texas public health concerns or threats associated with this case.

For more information about deadly prions and the threat that they pose to you, please visit http://alzheimerdisease.tv/ 

Please note that the above commentary represents the opinions of Gary R. Chandler.

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