Alzheimer’s An Infectious Disease
Editor’s Note: In April 2019, Dr. Stanley Prusiner published conclusive evidence that Alzheimer’s disease is a prion disease. The implications are far-reaching. Prion disease is highly infectious and fatal. It impacts 50-100 million victims, their family, friends and caregivers today. It’s time to reform policies and practices on many fronts to protect public health and entire ecosystems.
If you think that you and your family are immune to the surging epidemic of neurodegenerative disease, think again. Neurodegenerative disease, including Alzheimer’s disease, is the fastest-growing cause of death in the world. It’s getting worse every day thanks to mismanagement, misinformation and widespread contamination.
Death rates from heart disease and cancer are dropping in many countries due to advances in nutrition, medicine and disease management. Meanwhile, neurodegenerative disease is spreading exponentially. In the U.S., deaths attributed to Alzheimer’s disease increased 71 percent from 2000 to 2013, while those attributed to heart disease decreased 14 percent. Experts suggest that the prevalence of this neurodegenerative disease will quadruple by 2050, if not sooner. Dementia is vastly undiagnosed and misdiagnosed. Unfortunately, doctors are withholding millions of additional diagnoses, so we don’t know the extent of the epidemic.
Alzheimer’s disease and closely related diseases are actually members of an aggressive family of neurodegenerative diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). The operative word is “transmissible.” The TSE epidemic represents an environmental nightmare that threatens every mammal on Earth.
TSE has been found in mink, moose, mice, sheep, cats, elephants, dolphins, monkeys and many other species. Sea mammals are extremely vulnerable, but they aren’t being tested. Sick mammals on land and at sea are a canary in a coal mine. Their sickness confirms an alarming epidemiological trend among humans. An environmental contagion is responsible for the spike among many mammals. There is no species barrier.
Infectious proteins known as prions are involved with most forms of neurodegenerative disease. The global epidemic has more to do with the prion contagion than age.
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. Prions are a deadly and unstoppable form of protein. They migrate, mutate, multiply and kill with unparalleled efficiency.
President Obama awarded Prusiner the National Medal of Science in 2010 to recognize the importance of his research. According to Prusiner’s science, TSEs are a spectrum disease. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is extremely aggressive and extremely transmissible, is at the extreme end of the spectrum. Unfortunately, Prusiner’s science is being ignored and we are facing a public health disaster because of the negligence.
Neurologists don’t know where along the prion spectrum the disease becomes transmissible. The entire spectrum could represent a transmissible disease. Unfortunately, neurologists are not warning these patients and their caregivers about the risks of exposure. Even those with CJD are not quarantined now. They are sent home, where they can infect friends, family, caregivers, clinics, dental offices, restaurants and entire communities.
“Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disease in. Aggregation of the β-amyloid (Aβ) peptide within the brain is thought to spark the AD pathogenesis. Many recent studies in transgenic mice have proven that Aβ aggregates become self-propagating (infectious) during disease, leading to a cascade of protein aggregation in the brain, which may underlie the progressive nature of AD. The ability to self-propagate and the existence of distinct “strains” reveals that Aβ aggregates exhibit many properties indistinguishable from deadly prions. We have evidence that Aβ can become a prion during disease,” said Prusiner. “I learned that scrapie, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and kuru had all been shown to be transmissible by injecting extracts of diseased brains into the brains of healthy animals. Whether prions are responsible for common neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease is a possibility that should not be ignored.”
It appears that a variety of factors can contribute to neurodegeneration, including genetics, neurotoxins and head trauma. Once the neurodegeneration begins, the cause is the least of our concerns. At this stage, the misinformation and mismanagement are fanning the flames of a global epidemic. Each victim of prion disease becomes an incubator and distributor of the prion pathogen. Prions are now the X factor within a public health disaster.
“The (human) brain diseases caused by prions include Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), and other disorders known as frontotemporal dementias,” said Prusiner.
Unfortunately, there are many more questions than answers regarding neurodegenerative disease. Precise diagnoses are largely a shot in the dark and a process of elimination. Most doctors are unable to distinguish between advanced forms of Alzheimer’s disease and the highly aggressive and contagious version known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).
If the patient exhibits memory problems, they are labeled with Alzheimer’s disease. If they have a movement disorder, they are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. If the person exhibits extreme symptoms of both, they are diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease(CJD). It’s far from a science. It’s just a question of which prion mutation attacks the brain and which region of the brain comes under attack first.
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.
One reason for the variations of prion disease is that there are many mutations of prions. More mutations are created every day as prions migrate throughout the food chain and the environment. Prions shed from humans, for example, are the most deadly. As such, some prions can kill people within weeks of exhibiting clinical symptoms, while others can take years. Other people may not fall victim to the disease, but they can serve as carriers of the pathogen (internally and externally).
Since prion disease is a spectrum disease, doctors can’t tell the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and CJD without a spinal tap. Unfortunately, there are so many variations of prions, that even a spinal tap can only detect prion disease. It can’t distinguish between all of the various mutations because they aren’t even in the science books, yet. Dr. Prusiner just announced the discovery of a new form of prion. The first such characterization in 40 years. Just a few thousand more to go.
Unfortunately, it’s time to focus on containment not characterization. Although there are many causes and pathways contributing to the prion disease epidemic, many pathways are being mismanaged around the globe. Not only are homes exposed to the prion pathogens from victims, so are entire sewage systems.
Only a decade ago, the idea that Alzheimer’s disease might be transmissible between people would have been laughed away. But scientists have now shown that tissues can transmit symptoms of the disease between animals. A new study published in the journal Nature raises additional concern about the transmissibility of Alzheimer’s disease between people. The impact of such research is profound.
“This is the first evidence of real-world transmission of amyloid pathology,” says molecular neuroscientist John Hardy of University College London (UCL). “It is potentially concerning.”
“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 second study released in early 2016 by the same scientist adds to the stack of evidence. It appears that a real-world experiment is validating this hypothesis now.
Prions + Pathways = Victims
Prions are such a formidable threat that the U.S. government enacted the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, which 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 health systems. Unfortunately, the Center For Disease Control quietly took prions off the list about two years ago because the classification threatened to criminalize some multi-billion dollar industries and many industry practices.
Studies confirm that people and animals dying of prion disease contaminate the environment around them with prions because prions are in the skin, urine, feces, blood, mucus, saliva and cell tissue 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. Bodily fluids can become an aerosol, which means that a cough or sneeze can be a pathway.
At the personal level, this is very bad news for caregivers, especially spouses, who are 600 percent more likely to contract neurodegenerative disease from patients (Duke University and Utah State University). A cough, sneeze, utensils and drinking glasses all become lethal pathways. Once an item is contaminated, it’s impossible to sterilize. 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. Prions are not alive, so they can’t be killed.
Prions linger in the environment, homes, hospitals, nursing homes, dental offices, restaurants and many other places infinitely. They migrate, mutate, multiply and kill with unparalleled efficiency. Prions defy all attempts at sterilization and inactivation. Victims often become infectious long before they appear sick.
Wastewater treatment plants are collecting points for prions from infected humans. The sewage treatment process can’t stop prions from migrating, mutating and multiplying before being discharged into the environment where they can kill again. The bad news is that the prions are being released back into the environment and dumped openly on land. The wastewater is being reclaimed and used for irrigating crops, parks, golf courses. It’s even being recycled as drinking water.
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.
“Our findings open the possibility that some of the sporadic Alzheimer’s cases may arise from an infectious process, which occurs with other neurological diseases such as mad cow and its human form, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease,” said Claudio Soto, Ph.D., professor of neurology at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, part of UTHealth. “The underlying mechanism of Alzheimer’s disease is very similar to the prion diseases. It involves a normal protein that becomes misshapen and is able to spread by transforming good proteins to bad ones. The bad proteins accumulate in the brain, forming plaque deposits that are believed to kill neuron cells in Alzheimer’s.”
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 released and 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 more and more people dying from TSEs, wastewater treatment systems are more contaminated with prions than ever. Wastewater treatment plants are now prion incubators and distributors. The prion problem is getting worse 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 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.
“Since it’s unlikely that the sewage treatment process can effectively stop 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 even more bioavailable and infectious to humans, wildlife and livestock.
Unfortunately, the damage is real. Deer, elk, moose and reindeer are contracting an unstoppable prion disease now. In deer, the government calls prion disease chronic wasting disease. In cattle, prion disease is called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (they might as well call it what it is—transmissible spongiform encephalopathy). Mad cow disease is the term that most of us know. The government pretends that there is a specific prion responsible for each of these diseases. The fact is that there are thousands of mutations of prions spreading in the environment and food chain now. Some kill quickly, while some are less lethal. The only thing that we need to know is that a deadly prion is a deadly prion. There is no species barrier.
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. Wind and tornadoes transport the infectious waste even further.
So, is Alzheimer’s disease transmissible? Certainly in the more aggressive versions and the ones that should have been diagnosed as CJD. There is absolutely no evidence to the contrary. The truth is your best defense against neurodegenerative disease. It’s time to demand reforms on many levels to safeguard caregivers, family members and our food and water supplies. 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.
We’re all vulnerable to Alzheimer’s and other forms of prion disease right now due to widespread denial and mismanagement. As a result, the average age of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and CJD is dropping. The autism epidemic continues to surge. It’s all related.
Wastewater reclamation for drinking water is reckless. Using sewage sludge and biosolids on crops, grazing land, lawns and gardens is foolish and fraudulent. It’s been proven that plants grown in sewage sludge absorb prions and they become infectious.
Despite billions of dollars spent on research, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved six drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease. There is still no cure and no effective treatments other than nutrition. Alzheimer’s drugs are often of little to no benefit at all. Prevention is paramount.