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Animal Disease and Human Health Risk

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Yersinia Enterocolitica Infection

Yersinia has the unusual distinction of being a common cause of unnecessary surgery. Many a young person with Yersinia infection has undergone an appendectomy. The reason for this is that the germ causes fever and severe lower abdominal pain that mimics acute appendicitis.106 Foods contaminated with Yersinia include pork, raw and pasteurized milk, chocolate milk, and the Southern delicacy, chittterlings107 (made of pig intestines, known as "chitlins").

Clostridium Perfringens Infection

Clostridium perfringens is another common cause of food-borne outbreaks of infectious illness in the United States. Usually, over 1000 cases are reported each year to the Centers of Disease Control, but again, this is an underestimation of the actual cases.108 It is particularly common when the food source implicated in the outbreak is cooked beef.109 In addition to beef, chicken meat is also often infested with this germ. When infection develops, abdominal cramps and vomiting are the rule, although the symptoms usually last less than 72 hours and hospitalizations are unusual.

Beyond Upset Stomachs

It should be apparent that food-borne infectious illnesses can cause many problems beyond the simple intestinal upset or diarrhea. As we have already seen, many of these germs can cause life-threatening infections. Others can cause chronic crippling diseases. Campylobacter, as we have noted, can cause Guillain-Barre syndrome that often cripples when it does not kill. Salmonella can cause a chronic and permanent arthritis.

The fact is that more and more infectious diseases are being linked to chronic medical problems. A new infectious link has emerged to an often-devastating incurable intestinal illness known as Crohn's disease. Crohn's can cause such symptoms as bloody diarrhea, fever, severe abdominal pain, arthritis, and incapacity, as well as obstruction of the intestines that requires surgery. This disease up to now has had no known cause and has bewildered medical scientists for years.

I currently treat many Crohn's patients and although I have had success in controlling the condition in most patients, the disease remains a lifelong one with no cure. Researchers now have noted a link that at least some cases of Crohn's may be caused by infection with a germ called mycobacterium paratuberculosis.110, 111 This organism is extremely common in animals like sheep and cattle. The bacteria cause a chronic intestinal disease called Johne's disease that affects approximately 25 percent of U.S. dairy cattle.112 One of the most frightening aspects of this disease is that healthy-appearing cows can be infected and transmit the germ in their milk. In one study of a heavily infected Ohio herd, over one in four healthy-appearing cows had the germ in their stools and one in 12 had the germ in their milk.113 These are particularly chilling statistics when you realize that the germ can survive common pasteurization methods.114

106 Craig WJ. Are You Safe at the Plate. In: Nutrition for the Nineties. EauClaire, MI: Golden Harvest Books, 1992 p. 267-279.

107 Cobb, LL. Findings presented at 97th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, Miami, 1997.

108 Surveillance for foodborne-disease outbreaks--United States, 1988-1992. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 1996 Oct 25;45 No.SS-5: 18-19.

109 Clostridium perfringens gastroenteritis associated with corned beef served at St. Patrick's Day meals--Ohio and Virginia, 1993. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 1994 Mar 4;43(8):137, 143-144.

110 Cho SN, Brennan PJ, et al. Mycobacterial aetiology of Crohn's disease: serologic study using common mycobacterial antigens and a species-specific glyColipid antigen from Mycobacterium paratuberculosis. Gut 1986 Nov;27(11):1353-1356.

111 Mycobacterium paratuberculosis implicated in Crohn's Disease. Gastroenterology Observer 1995 Nov/Dec;14(6):4-5.

112 Mycobacterium paratuberculosis implicated in Crohn's Disease. Gastroenterology Observer 1995 Nov/Dec;14(6):4-5.

113 Streeter RN, Hoffsis GF, et al. Isolation of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis from colostrum and milk of subclinically infected cows. Am J Vet Res 1995 Oct;56(10):1322-1324.

114 Grant IR, Ball HJ, et al.. Inactivation of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis in cows' milk at pasteurization temperatures. Appl Environ Microbiol 1996 Feb;62(2):631-636.

Notice of Credit
The article above is compliments of the Uchee Pines Institute, Seale, Alabama, a teaching and treatment facility devoted to natural remedies. For mor information, call 334-855-4781,e-mail:, or visit their Website:

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