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Interesting Facts on BSE History in the USA.

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Well-known member
Jul 1, 2005
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Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
I post this to generate discussion on the facts. I hope it is found to be an interesting read. Ron.

Mad cow disease appeared for the first time in Britain in 1985.
Since that time it has killed roughly 170,000 cows in Britain,
and it has spread to humans.[1] In humans the disease is called
"new variant Creutzfeld-Jakob disease," or nvCJD for short. At
this point nvCJD has killed 24 people in Britain and one in
France. More human deaths are expected in Britain[2] because
several million people ate diseased beef before the British
government (or the beef industry) acknowledged that mad cow
disease could infect people.

In this country, (USA) the government agency with primary
responsibility for preventing an outbreak of mad cow disease and/or
its human variant, nvCJD, is the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA).

The FDA in 1997 issued a rule declaring it illegal for farmers to
feed animal protein from ruminants or mink to other ruminants --a
preventive step that had been taken by the British government in
1988. Ruminants are animals that chew their cuds, including
cattle, sheep, goats, deer and elk. Mink are included in the
FDA's ban because they can get a TSE similar to mad cow disease.

When cows, pigs, and chickens are slaughtered, much of the animal
cannot be used for food and is sent to a rendering plant to be
ground up, boiled down, dried to the consistency of brown sugar
and sold as feed for cows, pigs, chickens, and pets. It is this
rendered "animal protein" derived from ruminants (and mink) that
FDA has banned from feeding to ruminants.

The FDA's ruminant-to-ruminant ban still allows animal protein of
all kinds to be fed to pigs and chickens, and it allows animal
protein derived from pigs and chickens to be fed to ruminants.
The FDA ban also allows blood and gelatin derived from ruminants
to be fed to other ruminants. In the U.S., many newborn calves
are fed a high-protein diet consisting mainly of dried blood.
Blood cells carry prions just as nerve cells do.[4]

A small group of scientists, led by Dr. Michael Hansen of
Consumers Union, has challenged the adequacy of FDA's
ruminant-to-ruminant rule.[5] They argue that the FDA ban does
not go far enough, "does not adequately protect human health, and
is not scientifically defensible."[6] Consumers Union is the
publisher of CONSUMER REPORTS magazine.

Scientists on both sides of the controversy agree that mad cow
disease probably developed in Britain in one of two ways.
Possibly cows ate parts of sheep that had been infected with the
TSE called scrapie, and the scrapie, once in cows, evolved into
mad cow disease. Or, alternatively, a prion spontaneously went
bad (via genetic mutation of the gene that produces normal
prions) in a cow, and that cow was fed to other cows, which were
fed to other cows until the disease was amplified into an
epidemic. In either case, it was cows (which are vegetarians by
nature) being forced to eat animals that created the problem.

FDA officials say they are confident that their
ruminant-to-ruminant ban has prevented, and will continue to
prevent, an epidemic of mad cow disease in this country because
(a) mad cow has never been observed in cows in the U.S., and (b)
Creutzfeld-Jakob (CJD) disease is not increasing in the U.S.[7]
If mad cow were occurring in U.S. cows, some form of CJD should
be increasing, and it isn't, the FDA argues.

Michael Hansen of Consumers Union offers evidence that the
government may be wrong on both counts. Here are his arguments:

Mad cow may have already appeared in U.S. cows. Hansen offers
evidence from seven studies that some "downer" cows may have a
form of mad cow disease, though with symptoms somewhat different
from those in British cows. Downer cows are cows that cannot
stand up, cows that collapse, and cows that die mysteriously.
About 100,000 cows die each year in the U.S. with "downer"
symptoms, and most of them end up in rendering plants, turned
into animal feed.

In 1961, an outbreak of transmissible mink encephalopathy (TME)
--a brain-destroying TSE of mink --occurred on six mink farms in
Wisconsin. Because all the farms used the same ready-mix feed
which came from the same feed plant, investigators assumed that
the feed was the source of the infectious agent.[8] Two years
later, in 1963, an outbreak of TME occurred on two more Wisconsin
mink farms. Based on the 1961 outbreak, scientists suspected
feed and they examined the two farms' feed records carefully.
They learned that "downer" cows from farm A had been fed to mink
on Farm A and Farm B. The researchers wrote, "Since mink on both
farms developed the disease almost simultaneously, we believe
this feed component has to be incriminated."[9]

In 1985 an outbreak of TME occurred on a mink ranch in
Stetsonville, Wisconsin. Dr. Richard Marsh of the University of
Wisconsin investigated and found that the mink had been fed 95%
downer cows and 5% horse meat.[10] When brains from infected
mink were injected into two calves, within 19 months both calves
had a bovine TSE but they did NOT exhibit the symptoms of
Britain's mad cows. The Stetsonville cows simply became
lethargic and then fell over. In other words, they exhibited
typical "downer cow" symptoms. When brains from these cows were
injected into mink, the mink got TME, confirming the kind of
disease that had killed the cows. Marsh and his colleagues
concluded, "These results suggest the presence of a previously
unrecognized scrapie-like infection in cattle in the United

Marsh's cattle inoculation experiments have been repeated and,
again, mink TME was transmitted to cows and back to mink and the
cows exhibited "downer" symptoms, nothing like British mad cow
disease.[8] Furthermore, in 1979 U.S. Department of Agriculture
researchers in Mission, Texas, inoculated 10 cows with sheep
scrapie. Three of the 10 cows developed neurological symptoms,
but they were more like "downer cow" syndrome than British mad
cow disease: "progressive difficulty in rising, a stiff-legged
gait, incoordination, abnormal tail position, disorientation, and
terminal recumbency [lying down]," according to Dr. Clarence
Gibbs, Acting Chief of the Laboratory of Central Nervous System
Studies at the National Institutes of Health.[11] Ten years
later, when a test for mad cow disease became available, Dr.
Gibbs confirmed a bovine TSE disease in the three cows, whose
brains had been preserved.[11] Dr. Gibbs concluded,
"Susceptibility of cattle to scrapie further suggests the
possibility that sporadic cases of BSE [mad cow disease] may have
occurred in the United States under the clinical picture of the
downer cow syndrome...."[11]

After Gibbs confirmed that the Mission, Texas cows had indeed
died of a TSE, the U.S. Department of Agriculture repeated the
experiments at Ames, Iowa under the direction of Randall
Cutlip.[12] Dr. Cutlip described the results: "All calves kept
longer than one year became severely lethargic and demonstrated
clinical signs of motor neuron dysfunction that were manifest as
progressive stiffness, posterior paresis [partial paralysis],
general weakness, and permanent recumbency [lying down]." In
other words, cows infected with a sheep TSE had all the signs and
symptoms of downer cows.

Thus Hansen argues, there is considerable evidence that a TSE has
been present in some U.S. cattle for several decades.

But if mad cow disease is already present in some number of cows
in the U.S., where are the human victims? People should be
getting some form of CJD [Creutzfeld-Jakob disease], and this
disease is thought to be vary rare and not increasing in the U.S.
population. So where are the victims?

Hansen argues that CJD may be more prevalent in the U.S.
population than is presently thought. The official figures say
that CJD is exceptionally rare --one case in every million
people. In the U.S. this would mean there are 250 CJD cases at
any given time. Hansen points to two studies in which people
diagnosed with Alzheimer's were examined after death. In one
study, among 54 presumed Alzheimer's victims, 3 (or 5.5%) were
found to actually have CJD.[13] A Yale University study of 46
victims of Alzheimer's found that 6 (or 13%) actually died of
CJD, not Alzheimer's.[14] There are 2 million people with
Alzheimer's in the U.S.[8] If 5.5% of them actually have CJD,
there are 110,000 cases of CJD in the U.S., not 250 cases. If
13% of the 2 million have CJD, then there are 260,000 cases of
CJD in the U.S., not 250. If even 1% of the 2 million had CJD,
it would mean there was an epidemic of 20,000 cases of CJD
masquerading as Alzheimer's. Thus the FDA's argument that CJD is
very rare, and not increasing, needs to be re-examined.
In 1961, an outbreak of transmissible mink encephalopathy (TME)
--a brain-destroying TSE of mink --occurred on six mink farms in
Wisconsin. Because all the farms used the same ready-mix feed
which came from the same feed plant, investigators assumed that
the feed was the source of the infectious agent.[8] Two years
later, in 1963, an outbreak of TME occurred on two more Wisconsin
mink farms. Based on the 1961 outbreak, scientists suspected
feed and they examined the two farms' feed records carefully.
They learned that "downer" cows from farm A had been fed to mink
on Farm A and Farm B. The researchers wrote, "Since mink on both
farms developed the disease almost simultaneously, we believe
this feed component has to be incriminated."[9]

I imagine that Britain was importing cattle from the US much like the US was importing from Britain. Wouldn't that be a kicker if someday it was proven that the original 'Mad Cow' came from the US? :shock:
BSE tester; I find your approach offensive and repugnant....you chose to use every kind of innuendo,half truths and odd ball statements in a deliberate "alarmist" method.......all for one purpose ....to promote your so called test. If your diagnostic methods had any credibility at all you would not need to use these digusting tactics :!: :mad: :mad:
cowsense said:
BSE tester; I find your approach offensive and repugnant....you chose to use every kind of innuendo,half truths and odd ball statements in a deliberate "alarmist" method.......all for one purpose ....to promote your so called test. If your diagnostic methods had any credibility at all you would not need to use these digusting tactics :!: :mad: :mad:

I don't think so cowsense. He has no agenda here. No one on this board will be buying the test. I think he knows something about his business and is eager to share. No one here has the authority to accept, or not accept, his test.
At least he's not like Red or Nebrusker. JMHO
I posted that simply to provide more information as to what has been researched in the past about BSE in the USA. If that is repugnant, then get out the whip and start whipping me. I have no intention of selling my test to anyone involved in the cattle business at this time anyway as it still has not been validated for BSE testing. That will come. But for cowsense to be so offended is ridiculous. I clearly stated that I was posting it as an information post only and there is nothing in there about my test or any other test so relax cowsense and hey, have a nice day. I meant no offence and I take none, but if you want to pee yourself slamming me, I can't do anything about that. I only want to share information here and get opinions as to what people here think about the BSE problem and how to best combat it. I have no hidden agenda and will not be commenting any further with respect to the urine test that we have. There, that should make your pipes cool down huh! Oh and one more thing cowsense, I did not write any of that post, I simply pasted it there for all to read as there has been a lot of talk on the board lately about CJD and BSE so I thought it might assist a few folks to have some proven science/facts as a reference instead of all the half-truths and misguided opinions that seem to flow freely some days. What the hell was wrong with that?? Frankly, I think you owe me an apology for your extremely harsh comments as I find them something of a personal insult that you would take that stance especially when I posted it in good faith as an information post only.
One other thing. You accuse me of using".....inuendo, half-truths and oddball statements in a deliberate and 'alarmist' method...... all to promote my test! Bullshit!!

The wording - that is every single word of that posting, came from the 1998 Environmental Research Foundation's Environment & Health Weekly," published on July 16, 1998 - Titled "Mad Cow Disease, Part 2."

So before you get too involved in making statements that have no basis in fact, be sure that you have your facts right. If you read the first line of my posting, and then read it again, I am sure that you will see that I clearly stated that I was posting that article for information purposes only.

So, if I post another portion of an article about CJD or BSE or cowshit falling out of trees, I vcan expect you to make baseless accusations again or what?? Most people here want to know about this disease and refuse to succumb to the rhetoric being spewed in Ottawa and/or Washington. Some of us want to share information and others only wish to bury their heads in the sand and not only ignore it, but make ridiculous and offensive comments about what they think is going on. Thank you Mike and Read (#2) and of course, Sash for your comments and I do look forward to engaging in respectable and intelligent conversation and sharing of information with those who are not only capable of it, but willing to engage in it. Ron.
Thank you for your calm response "Reader the Second." I guess I took it a little to heart, but then that happens sometimes. I usually handle that sort of rhetoric well but for some reason that individual got under my skin a little and that is all it takes for me to reply as I did. I hope he can read between the lines as I can be somewhat subtle at times. Of course, that is of course, if he canactually read English, which I doubt. But, you are absolutely right and I shall ignor such comments from here on in and share whatever I can with the folks who wish to absorb information and hopefully share some to.
reader (the Second) said:
bse-tester --- those of us posting scientific and factual material about BSE or even about TSEs in general have learned to ignore the personal attacks and the silly rebuttals. This happens everytime, but hopefully a little bit of what is posted gets through. As Mike says they choose denial over surveillance and safety. Ignorance is bliss but ignorance could end up hurting the industry even more.

reader, the second, what do you know, and think, about the practice in England of mixing brain tissue with the hamburger as a binder? I have recently seen it mentioned as a possible means of transmission of vCJD, and that it was a common practice in the past.

Yum, beef brains.

Good for you though;


But the Pancreas is too:

bse tester,

After our private email messages I believe you are sincere in your research. From that standpoint I give you credit. I have always been a proponent of research but I won't hesitate to point out what I see as obvious biases clouding the facts.

If you are as sincere as you appear to be, hard questions regarding the justification for your test shouldn't bother you.

What bothers me is your notion that existing tests aren't getting the job done (rapid diagnostic tests) without proof, your unwillingness to question the need for additional testing based on the rarity of BSE in the U.S., and your unwillingness to acknowledge the accomplisments that have already been made towards BSE (feed ban, BSE surveilance testing, SRM removal, etc).

You may have the test we should have had years ago. On the other hand, maybe we don't need it anymore for BSE. If it's not needed for BSE, your test may have value in other areas such as CWD in wildlife.

Don't take the hard questions and criticism personal. You should expect them considering what's at stake for our industry.

From my standpoint, I don't want to be paying for a test that isn't justified.

Overall, I think you address criticism quite well.

Ron, Are you familiar with the work of this doctor? I have read that he was a big player in the UK during the BIG epidemic days. He went public with his estimate that over 250,000 cases of BSE would be found in UK cattle. The Guvment freaked out and fired him. As it seems his guesstimate is probably "way" low, due to the fact that few young healthy animals were tested, and that they could not detect sub-clinical cases (at that time). It would probably astound us to know how many cases there actually were.
Prion diseases, in my opinion, are not new to this world. It's just that we have the technology, close but not perfect, to detect them within a given quantity.
Anyway, Dr. Harash developed a urine test many many moons ago.
Dr.Narang Harash
22-40 Brentwood Ave
Newcastle upon Tyne
Home 0191 281 6622
Wk 0191 281 5311
Fax 0191 281 0611
Mobile 07831 444 104
[email protected]
He was the scientist working at the Public Health Laboratory in Newcastle on electron microscopy tests for BSE in 1988. His method (IHC) did work but was expensive and difficult. Following this he worked on urine diagnostic methods and has produced a patented method to extract protein from urine, and then indicate the presence of PrPsc in it. His initial work has shown this to work in the urine of cattle with symptoms but it has been difficult to get hold of the urine of animals early in their incubation period.
Currently the method is being commercialised through Colin Coat (0044 191 385 8444) at Biotech Global.
Harash and I know each other extremely well. It is the same test that I have. He passed the test over to Biotec Global (Newcastle UK) and then Biotec, having paid for the test and its development, (Over a million pounds sterling) acquired the world-wide patent for it. Subsequent to this, Biotec Global sent the test which Dr. Narang had developed to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where it was perfected (under contract to biotec Global) and during the period of the last two years, I have worked closely with Dr. Narang and Biotec Global. Subsequent to this marriage, I have acquired the Exclusive North American Rights, inclusive of Canada, USA, Mexico, Central and South America and also Europe for the test and all of its applications. Dr. Narang indeed suffered tremendously at the hands of the British Government and was fired for speaking out at a time when the British Government was not willing to face the facts of the scientific proof that BSE had entered the food chain and that it was manifesting itself as nvCJD. Further to this, Dr. Narang had shown that the disease was likely to have infected as many as 1 million people in the Uk and even more in Europe due to the fact that the UK was engaged in shipping meat products throughout Europe. (350,000 pounds to France alone prior to the Feed Ban).

Colin Coat is no longer involved with Biotec Global and my company here in Edmonton has partnered with Biotec Global to have the test validated for all TSE's that include BSE, CJD, nvCJD, Scrapie, CWD and Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker Syndrome. We are also intending to apply the test to other ailments such as Alzheimers Disease.

Our Test Kit, will provide the means to detect the PrPsc in as little as 1ml of urine. The collection of the urine has raised some concerns but in the females it is easy enough as cattle are generally at ease with a Neilson tube insertion while in the squeeze. As for males, it is generally taken at slaughter by means of syringe through the bladder wall. The meat is then cooled and held for 24 hours unsplit until a result is available. Generally within 14 - 24 hrs.

Dr. Narang, a man I respect greatly, had paved the way for this test in his research. However, there was an essential component missing and that was identified through the collaboration of Biotect Global, Dr. Narang and Case Western Researve University, the United States National Prion Surveillance Center for Prion Diseases. Dr. Shu G. Chen, Assistant Director of Pathology there, perfected the test along with Dr. Ayuna Dagdanova and through their additional contributions made under contract (with Biotec Global) the necessary perfection of the test was accomplished. Doctor's Chen and Dagdanova showed that by using the correct binding antibody, the test was extremely sensitive and could detect the presence of PrPsc in minute samples of urine. PErsonally, and this is my opinion and that of Biotec Global, is that Dr. Harash Narang should be awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery of PrPsc in urine and the development of a simple method if detection of same. This method incidently, was developed by Dr. Narang long before other scientists of note made their inroads into the world of prion diseases. His "Paper" was published in May 2005 in the Journal of the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine. It is there for all to read. Ron.
Very interesting Ron. Thanks.

Dr. Narang (I believe) hypothesized that BSE was transmitted via a virus (or virino - the term had not been used yet) but with the lack of technology and funding (because of his dismissal) was unable to prove to satisfaction. I wonder if this is still in the back of his mind?

Prusiner is no doubt the "king" of prions but there are many other researchers who have contributed immeasureably. Dr. Narang, I believe, is one of them.

How do you feel about some of the statements posted here questioning Prusiners motives? My understanding is that he has so many patents being used that he has no need to just, "sell tests". As many have alluded to.
I feel that Harash Narang has made aboslutely enormous contributions to the field of Prion Science. He has after all, pioneered the theories relating to urine testing and even considered the fact that DNA of the prion protein was indeed measurable and detectable. He has without a doubt made extremely valuable contributions and the idea that Prusiner is the "King" of Prion research is not completely palatable to me. So many other scientists have done the walk and walked the many miles to get the theories out there. Prusiner has spent far too much time on patenting ideas and not enough time in getting deeper into the hard side of the science. Patents are ok if all you want to do is market a product, but to generate science and bring it out into the sunlight is truly the essense of what I consider it to be. But then, that is just my opinion. He has done his work, sure enough, but where was he in the beginning when the rough studies were done. He picked up on it later as I understand it. Where was he 35 year ago when Dr. Narang was formulating his theories? Don't get me wrong, I am not waving a flag for Harash, it is that I simply feel that he has been stepped on by the British establishment and left to develop his theories alone. In fact, he has been thoroughly vilified by the British Government in their patthetic attempts to protect their own asses by covering up the potential infection of the human food chain. Even Canadian scientists have been fired from their positions for speaking out. (Toronto, 2003/4) Without the intervention of Biotec Global, it is doubtful that Dr. Narang would have come as far as he has with his urine/prion detection studies. I feel he has not only earned the right to shout from the rooftops, but to also be put forward for the Nobel Prize for his truly remarkable [and now proven] ideas relating to prion detection in urine. Ron.