This has been taken from the website called Not Milk. I have broken the letter up as it’s quite long and very rich in terms of what we need to know. Small doses may help in terms of taking it in. Thus I’m going to produce a series of posts based on this letter. Watch this space 🙂
There are two other cow-related diseases that you should be aware of. At this time they are not known to be spread by the use of dairy products and are not known to involve man. The first is bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), and the second is the bovine immunodeficiency virus (BIV). The first of these diseases, we hope, is confined to England and causes cavities in the animal’s brain. Sheep have long been known to suffer from a disease called scrapie. It seems to have been started by the feeding of contaminated sheep parts, especially brains, to the British cows. Now, use your good sense. Do cows seem like carnivores? Should they eat meat? This profit-motivated practice backfired and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or Mad Cow Disease, swept Britain. The disease literally causes dementia in the unfortunate animal and is 100 per cent incurable. To date, over 100,000 cows have been incinerated in England in keeping with British law. Four hundred to 500 cows are reported as infected each month. The British public is concerned and has dropped its beef consumption by 25 per cent, while some 2,000 schools have stopped serving beef to children. Several farmers have developed a fatal disease syndrome that resembles both BSE and CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob-Disease). But the British Veterinary Association says that transmission of BSE to humans is “remote.”
The USDA agrees that the British epidemic was due to the feeding of cattle with bonemeal or animal protein produced at rendering plants from the carcasses of scrapie-infected sheep. The have prohibited the importation of live cattle and zoo ruminants from Great Britain and claim that the disease does not exist in the United States. However, there may be a problem. “Downer cows” are animals that arrive at auction yards or slaughter houses dead, trampled, lacerated, dehydrated, or too ill from viral or bacterial diseases to walk. Thus they are “down.” If they cannot respond to electrical shocks by walking, they are dragged by chains to dumpsters and transported to rendering plants where, if they are not already dead, they are killed. Even a “humane” death is usually denied them. They are then turned into protein food for animals as well as other preparations. Minks that have been fed this protein have developed a fatal encephalopathy that has some resemblance to BSE. Entire colonies of minks have been lost in this manner, particularly in Wisconsin. It is feared that the infective agent is a prion or slow virus possible obtained from the ill “downer cows.”
The British Medical Journal in an editorial whimsically entitled “How Now Mad Cow?” (BMJ vol. 304, 11 Apr. 1992:929- 30) describes cases of BSE in species not previously known to be affected, such as cats. They admit that produce contaminated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy entered the human food chain in England between 1986 and 1989. They say. “The result of this experiment is awaited.” As the incubation period can be up to three decades, wait we must.
The immunodeficiency virus is seen in cattle in the United States and is more worrisome. Its structure is closely related to that of the human AIDS virus. At this time we do not know if exposure to the raw BIV proteins can cause the sera of humans to become positive for HIV. The extent of the virus among American herds is said to be “widespread”. (The USDA refuses to inspect the meat and milk to see if antibodies to this retrovirus are present). It also has no plans to quarantine the infected animals. As in the case of humans with AIDS, there is no cure for BIV in cows. Each day we consume beef and diary products from cows infected with these viruses and no scientific assurance exists that the products are safe. Eating raw beef (as in steak Tartare) strikes me as being very risky, especially after the Seattle E. coli deaths of 1993.
A report in the Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research, October 1992, Vol. 56 pp.353-359 and another from the Russian literature, tell of a horrifying development. They report the first detection in human serum of the antibody to a bovine immunodeficiency virus protein. In addition to this disturbing report, is another from Russia telling us of the presence of virus proteins related to the bovine leukaemia virus in 5 of 89 women with breast disease (Acta Virologica Feb. 1990 34(1): 19-26). The implications of these developments are unknown at present. However, it is safe to assume that these animal viruses are unlikely to “stay” in the animal kingdom.
Read more about this in future blog posts. They wont have huge gaps between them so it wont be long. If you don’t want to keep checking this website, sign up here and receive notifications about new posts.