Animal Disease and Human Health Risk
Prion Diseases Have Long Incubation Periods
There is one other very important aspect that needs to be reemphasized. These transmissible
spongiform encephalopathies have extremely long incubation periods. As already mentioned
regarding humans, there is evidence that kuru can take up to 30 years to manifest itself.
This is likely to be the same with CJD. As we have seen with BSE, it may take up to six or
eight years or more before infected cows show signs of the disease.
Again, the important
implication is that thousands of animals and humans may now be infected but may not develop
symptoms for many years. However, an infected cow can theoretically transmit the illness
whether or not it has yet developed symptomatic disease. The widely publicized ban on
feeding dead animal parts to British cattle has not stopped the epidemic, although it has
appeared to slow it down. When the statistics were reviewed in a 1997 report, 31,903
British cattle that had developed BSE were born after the ban was implemented.59 The important
message is that young cows may be infected and may be able to transmit disease to humans.
"Calf Milk Replacers" Fed to Calves Contain Animal Products
Furthermore, if BSE is indeed present in countries like the U.S., agricultural processes
have likely disseminated the disease quite widely. Up until April 1996 in the United States,
as much as 15 percent of protein in cattle feed was from rendered (animal) sources.60 One
surprising place that remnant materials have been used is in the feed for calves. On many
farms calves receive "calf milk replacers," a type of artificial milk. This practice allows
the mother's milk to be sold on the market rather than fed to her calf. Up through the
beginning of 1996, if you had read an ingredient list on these calf milk replacers, you would
have found such items as "animal plasma" and "animal protein products" that may include
"meat and bone meal."61 These milk replacers may thus expose calves to the infected blood
constituents or other body parts of diseased cattle.
Even with the knowledge that BSE likely resulted from the practice of feeding rendered meat
to British cattle, the United States had for years appeared unwilling to make any laws
forbidding such practices in our nation. However, in the wake of all the mad cow furor,
the FDA has finally put forth a ban on feeding ruminant animals any part of the carcasses of
other ruminants (ruminant animals include cattle, sheep, and goats). This became effective
August 4, 1997.62
However, blood products, milk, milk products, and gelatin from ruminants and protein solely
from pig or horse sources will still be allowed to be included in feeds in the U.S. An
FDA advisory committee has asked the FDA to also exclude gelatin for feed, saying that
there is not enough data to prove that gelatin is safe, particularly gelatin that comes
from Europe. As of this writing, the FDA has not yet decided on the gelatin issue. It
was not until 1996 that Great Britain banned the feeding of all animals or animal parts
to other animals.
Some have suggested that the U.S. government's delay in implementing a ban on rendered
animal tissues illustrates a very real conflict of interest in the department's
organization. Like their British counterparts, the USDA serves two roles: to safeguard
the nation's food supply and at the same time protect the interests of the agricultural
community by promoting the sale of animal products. It is readily apparent that these
dual goals can often conflict.
59 Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food (MAFF), United Kingdom (UK): BSE Enforcement
Bulletin Issue 8: BSE status report to March 17, 1997. From Internet at
60 Rodney Scale personal communication with Kendra Pratt at Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Services (APHIS). U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1996.
61 Bovine Alliance on Management & Nutrition (BAMN). Undated. A Guide to Modern
Calf Milk Replacers. USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Agency (APHIS), 1996 p. 3.
62 (21 CFR Part 589) Substances prohibited from use in animal food or feed; Animal
proteins prohibited in ruminant feeds. Food and Drug Administration. Department of Health
and Human Services. Federal Register 1997 Jun 5;62(108):30936-30978.
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:
firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their Website:
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