By Robert Cohen Executive Director Text Only

Is Mad Cow Disease in America?

Is Mad Cow Disease in America?

Memorial Day marks the unofficial launch date for each
summer's barbecue season. Ladies and gentlemen, start your
grills. Yesterday, Memorial Day, May 26, 2003, I received
this email letter from one of my readers in McBain,

"Rumor has it that there are 3 herds quarantined in the
McBain, MI, area for mad cow, as of yet it is only a rumor
but we are in a big dairy area."

I subsequently spoke with that reader, three Mcbain dairy
farmers, the wife of the Mayor of McBain, one McBain
veterinarian, the editor of a dairy magazine, and a
television producer friend. What I've learned has my head

For the past five years, I have written a daily column on
milk-related issues. I have missed very few days, and have
built an enormous readership. Many thousands of people
representing every state in America read the Notmilk letter.
Of course, information travels two-ways on our worldwide
electronic communications highway, so that if anybody was
going to get a tip about America's first Mad Cow, I would
represent as good a candidate as any to receive such
information, I suppose.

Nearly nine months ago, I asked: "Do we have Mad Cow Disease
in America?" On September 4, 2002, I answered my own
question based upon the evidence before me:

"In my opinion, we do not." That's what I wrote.

Yesterday, based upon new evidence, I have changed my
opinion. Mad Cow Disease is now here in America.

In 1907, Dr. Alzheimer published a treatise regarding a
disease that would one day carry his name. He also mentored
two young associates, Dr. Creutzfeldt and Dr. Jakob. They
too identified a similar brain-wasting disease that now has
Europe in a panic. The brains of cows turn into a sponge-
like mass and their behavior is called "mad."

The version of this disease affecting cows is called bovine
spongiform encephalitis or BSE. The human variant of Mad Cow
Diesease has been named Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease or CJD.

The protein causing CJD has no DNA, and has been described
as more like a crystal than cellular material. In labs, 1000
degree Fahrenheit heat does not destroy this protein
particle. Some scientists say that once infected, the
incubation period can last anywhere from one month to thirty
years. As the human brain turns into a sponge, this
spongiform encephalitic condition physically debilitates
those so infected.

Since the early 1900s, one out of one million people have
naturally developed CJD, the human brain-wasting disease.
Based upon that statistic, 280 Americans (out of our 280
million population) would be expected to be diagnosed with
CJD in 2003. Due to the popularity of Mad Cow Disease, such
a diagnosis has often been concluded by relatives laying
blame upon infected deer, elk, or cows.


Young people are not supposed to get CJD. This has
traditionally been a disease occurring in people over age
60. England finally admitted that they had a problem after
young people started dying from CJD.

In a moment you will read about two men, both under thirty
years of age, who have died in Michigan from CJD, the human
version of Mad Cow Disease. Remarkably, both men were in the
same Ann Arbor hospital.

Up until now, young Americans have neither caught nor died
from the disease. I doubt that the New York Times or 60
Minutes will report this news, for there is a powerful
effort in America to keep Mad Cow Disease under wraps. When
the story does hit front page status, Americans may panic
much the same way people did in Britain. Many new
vegetarians are waiting to be created by this revelation of
animal disease. This is the key. The defining line. Young
people. And so it has happened.

Two Michigan men have gotten CJD. They have both died. One
man was 28 years old, and the other 26. Both lived their
entire lives in Michigan. Neither had traveled to England or
any other nation with Mad Cow Disease, and neither had eaten
wild deer or elk. The National Institutes of Health provided
grant money to treat these men when they were alive, and
then analyze their brains to confirm this pathology. The
grant number was AG14359. The Michigan Alzheimer's Disease
Research Center also provided support under NIH grant P50-

The American Academy of Neurology recently reported this
(not-so well publicized) news at one of their conferences.
For confirmation, contact Kathy Stone, telephone 651-695-
2763, e-mail:

If you or any friend or family member continues to eat beef,
please share this information with them.

Robert Cohen, author of:   MILK A-Z
Executive Director (
Dairy Education Board

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