Biosolids Fueling Chronic Wasting Disease

Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other forms of neurodegenerative disease are the fasting-growing causes of death around the world. The epidemic is spreading to wildlife thanks to misinformation and mismanagement.

Infectious proteins known as prions are involved with most forms of neurodegenerative disease. Prion disease is known in neurology as transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). The operative word is “transmissible.” The global epidemic is all about the prion contagion, which spreads and mutates like wildfire.

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. Prusiner claims that all TSEs, including Alzheimer’s disease, 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 are a spectrum disease. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), which is extremely aggressive and extremely transmissible, is at the extreme end of the spectrum. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) also is part of the prion spectrum. Unfortunately, Prusiner’s science is being ignored and we are facing a public health disaster because of the negligence.

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. 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. Sick wildlife are serving as the proverbial canary in a coal mine.

prion disease spectrum

The deadly and infectious prions spread through bodily fluids, including blood, mucus, saliva, urine and feces.Mismanagement of contagious pathogens associated with the disease are contributing to the epidemic. Few, if any, mammals are immune. There is no species barrier.

Alzheimer’s disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease are both highly transmissible. Prions shed from humans are the most aggressive mutations and the most difficult to neutralize. That’s because prions mutate as they move up the food chain and humans, of course, are at the top of the food chain. As such, the sewage from these victims is highly infectious. Thanks to sewage mismanagement, prion diseases have been spreading to wildlife through the bodily fluids of humans who have the disease. CWD is now an epidemic and the government routinely hires sharpshooters to get rid of the evidence.

“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. “In fact, this ability to transmit an abnormal conformation is probably a universal property of amyloid-forming proteins (prions).”

Alzheimer's disease transmissible

A study published in the journal Nature renews concern about the transmissibility of Alzheimer’s disease between people. A second study released in early 2016 by the same scientist adds to the stack of evidence.

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 and loved ones.

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. Each victim becomes an incubator and a distributor of the Pandora-like pathogen. Victims are contagious long before they exhibit clinical symptoms.

Although there are many vectors for prion disease to spread among wildlife, including animal to animal, the biggest threat is being ignored. That’s because wastewater treatment plants are collectors, concentrators and incubators of deadly prions that are flushed down millions of toilets and rinsed down millions of sinks every day. Wastewater treatment plants then pump millions of gallons of infected water and spread millions of tons of infected sewage sludge, on farms, ranches, forests, golf courses, parks and school grounds every day. The reckless practices are contaminating our food and water supplies–and those of wildlife.

The risk assessments involving these facilities and their by-products were prepared before prions were discovered and characterized. Wildlife, sea mammals, livestock and people are contracting prion disease from mismanaged sewage.

sewage sludge and disease

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.

prion research Joel Pedersen

“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.”

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 a “contaminant of emerging concern.” Meanwhile, its outdated risk assessments are promoting a public health disaster.

sewage sludge and disease

“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.

Thanks to more and more people dying from TSEs, sewage systems are more contaminated with prions than ever. Wastewater treatment systems are now prion incubators and distributors. The problem is getting worse every day. As such, it’s time to reclassify sewage sludge, biosolids and reclaimed wastewater as infectious waste to defend our food, water and air from infectious waste. It’s time to enforce the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act Of 2002 and similar laws around the world. Sick deer, elk, moose and reindeer are just the tip of a very deadly iceberg.

chronic wasting disease and CWD

CWD was first detected in deer in North America. Then it was detected in a variety of other animals, including an elephant at the Oakland zoo, mink, a dolphin and many other mammals. It’s been found in a variety of animals across the United States and Canada. All hypotheses in the past centered around contaminated feed and reckless deer farmers. Deer  also spread the disease via nose-to-nose contact. Those theories were just rocked by the discovery of CWD in Norway in moose and reindeer. The disease didn’t jump the Atlantic from the Americas. However, Norway dumps tons of infectious waste on land every year–infectious waste from people with prion disease. Once unleashed on the environment, prions remain infectious.

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. Unfortunately, the CDC quietly took prions off the list because the regulation criminalized entire industries and several reckless practices. Although there are many causes and pathways contributing to prion disease, many pathways are being mismanaged around the globe.

mad cow disease and BSE

If prion disease is killing these animals, livestock are not immune. Beef and dairy cattle are consuming these infected crops and the infected water supplies, too. Since humans are at the top of the food chain, and since we are often downstream from these infected farms, ranches and forests, our food and water supplies are being compromised.

Despite all of the warning signs, government and industry are insisting that we waste more time, money and lives studying these issues to death. The infection is real. The body count is real. The denial is disturbing. It’s time to stop the land application of sewage sludge (LASS) in all nations. Safer alternatives exist. Please join our coalition for reform.

risk communications and public relations

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 gary@crossbow1.com.