View Full Version : R U Worried about Mad Cow/BSE?

November 16th, 2000, 05:18 PM
<FONT FACE="Verdana,Arial" SIZE=2>Me I am paranoid. I am MUCH better at sticking to being vegeterian now and only break down for a bit of chicken or fish now and again. BTW I live in the US. I normally have this *think* about germs and for there to be thing that causes such a horrible illness and you CAN'T cook it away {{{{shudder}}}}. What do you hopefully calmer folks think?

Interesting article on the EuropeanUnion wanting to totally ban on all animal product feeds - this
means now more ground up & cooked beasties being fed to formerly
vegeterian animals: www.workingforchange.com/...temId=9502 (http://www.workingforchange.com/news/article.cfm?ItemId=9502)
Yahoo.com's Mad Cow news section: dailynews.yahoo.com/fc/He...ow_Disease (http://dailynews.yahoo.com/fc/Health/Mad_Cow_Disease)</FONT><FONT FACE="Verdana,Arial" SIZE=2>Results (total votes = 28):</FONT><table bgcolor=#FFFFFF border=0 cellpadding=3 cellspacing=0 width="75%">
<tr><td bgcolor="#000000" colspan=3 height=1></tr><TR BGCOLOR=#E0E0E0><TD NOWRAP>
<FONT FACE="Verdana,Arial" SIZE=2>I am PaRaNoId! :eek:eek:eek:eek</FONT>&nbsp</td>
<td height><FONT FACE="Verdana,Arial" SIZE=2>17&nbsp;/&nbsp;60.7%</FONT>&nbsp</td><td><img src=http://www.ezboard.com/images/bar.gif width=182 height=10 hspace=3>&nbsp;</td></tr>
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<FONT FACE="Verdana,Arial" SIZE=2>I am a little worried</FONT>&nbsp</td>
<td height><FONT FACE="Verdana,Arial" SIZE=2>2&nbsp;/&nbsp;7.1%</FONT>&nbsp</td><td><img src=http://www.ezboard.com/images/bar.gif width=21 height=10 hspace=3>&nbsp;</td></tr>
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<FONT FACE="Verdana,Arial" SIZE=2>I am not worried at all</FONT>&nbsp</td>
<td height><FONT FACE="Verdana,Arial" SIZE=2>7&nbsp;/&nbsp;25.0%</FONT>&nbsp</td><td><img src=http://www.ezboard.com/images/bar.gif width=75 height=10 hspace=3>&nbsp;</td></tr>
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<FONT FACE="Verdana,Arial" SIZE=2>Don't know what Mad Cow is</FONT>&nbsp</td>
<td height><FONT FACE="Verdana,Arial" SIZE=2>2&nbsp;/&nbsp;7.1%</FONT>&nbsp</td><td><img src=http://www.ezboard.com/images/bar.gif width=21 height=10 hspace=3>&nbsp;</td></tr>
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November 16th, 2000, 05:19 PM
I'm paranoid about it, but I figure those are the risks you run
when eating charred dead flesh. *wink*

I've been a
vegetarian for several years now and am fanatical about it to
the point of reading labels and quizzing waiters to make sure
that no animal fat or bits are snuck into my food. I couldn'
t eat anything with a
face if I wanted to at this point,
it would make me horribly
ill. So I'm not worried at all
for me. I'm worried for my carnivore loved ones, though. It'
s risky and scary. *sad face*

Edited to put in my own
darn emoticon words because the EZ
board ones don't work!
! And WOW, their formatting is really messed up.

November 16th, 2000, 05:23 PM
No beef for my fur kids! I am also trying to encourage my parents
to at least eat chicken & fish instead of beef even if they
won't join me in consuming tofu this and tofu that.

November 22nd, 2000, 08:17 AM
www.workingforchange.com/...temId=9738 (http://www.workingforchange.com/news/article.cfm?ItemId=9738)

A few quotes:

he government reported Spain's first case of
mad cow disease on Wednesday and said it is investigating a second possible

``The first case is conclusive. There is no room for doubt,'' Agriculture
Minister Miguel Arias Canete said. But, he added, ``there's no reason to think
we're on the verge of an epidemic. The message to the public is one of calm.''

Tests by government veterinarians in the northwest Galicia region revealed a
confirmed case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, late Wednesday
morning, said Arias Canete.

He said Spanish authorities sent samples of the second animal to British
experts for further analysis.

The minister said Spanish authorities have quarantined the farms where the
cows lived along with other farms which may have had contact with the
animals. He said all cows suspected to have had contact with either case will
be destroyed and tested.

Panic over mad cow disease rises: www.usatoday.com/usatonli...58827s.htm (http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20001122/2858827s.htm)
Bio Invasion: No longer hindered by time and distance, disease can strike any species, anywhere
www.businessweek.com/2000...698141.htm (http://www.businessweek.com/2000/00_37/b3698141.htm)
Mad Cow Disease defined
www.businessweek.com/2000...698141.htm (http://www.businessweek.com/2000/00_37/b3698141.htm)
Mad Cow Disease

Called bovine spongiform encephalopathy, it has spread from England to several European countries

BSE first appeared in Great Britain in the early 1980s.

Animals develop the disease by eating feed contaminated with infectious proteins called prions. Slowly, malformed prions
proliferate, turning the brain to mush.

Cows, sheep, deer, humans, and cats can develop forms of the disease.

Since 1996, mad cow has cost Britain more than $6 billion. Over 4 million British cattle have been slaughtered, and more
than 90 cases of the human version of the disease have been reported.

November 22nd, 2000, 02:28 PM
I see another enjoyment in life for me would be potentially gone. I love beef, and chicken and fish.

Am I paranoid? Now that you mentioned these articles, maybe a bit.

November 22nd, 2000, 05:21 PM
practice of feeding animals other animals processed remains which many think is what caused cows to get this to begin with. I read that some in France are trying to ban this and get meat producers to instead use vegetable protein like soybeans. This disease freaks me out because of the way it ruins the brain. My best part of me is my mind and to have something possibly rob me of my very thoughts is very frightening.

Until I know more about what the US is doing to protect people from this disease. Every so often I read of someone having the human version of Mad Cow, maybe once or twice a year, but they never say where they got it. About one month ago there was an article about a woman in New Orleans who had brain surgery & later found she had it. They had reused instruments upon several other patients and possibly spread the prions as normal sterilization is not enough. The article said that they recommend that they destroy all medical instruments after brain surgery now because of this risk but they have not been doing so as some cost several thousand per item.

My understanding is that they don't know people have mad cow until they test brain tissue after death. This leaves a possibility that if they are not testing people for it they are not catching that people have it. I remember a news report (I think it was Dateline NBC) several years ago with one doc saying that *possibly* some people have mad cow and are being diagnosed as Alzheimer's instead because no one is expecting it over here.

I freely admit to being a nervous person. I am a worry wort to say the least. But with something this scary for now it is best for my peace of mind to stick to being a good little vegetarian and also not feed my kitties beef. My kitties are my kids and I would be heart broken if I possibly let them get some disease that I could have easily prevented by simply feeding them chicken or fish based cat food.

November 22nd, 2000, 05:35 PM

Nothing wrong if you are taking a cautious approach. But sigh..............., how many things do I have to give up! Yikes.

November 22nd, 2000, 06:10 PM
Hi Skatingfan,

You have a great memory for these details! :)
Please bear with me while I try to condense notes from my recent MedMicro class: Marshall Wiliams, Ph.D.

Peristent infections characterized by long incubation periods (months to years).
Followed by slowly progressive disease -- impairment of central nervous system, dementia and death.
Spongiform encephalopathies caused by Prions (proteinaceous infectious particles).
Diseases include scrapie, transmissible encephalopathy of mink, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (Mad Cow Disease).
Human diseases include Kuru, Creutzfeld-Jacob Syndrome (CJS) and Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker Syndrome (GSSS).

NO infections in other organ systems. ONLY in Central Nervous System.
Worldwide geographical distribution
LOW incidence and prevalence
100% fatality/morbidity/mortality
varied age, sex, race and soceoeconomic factors

KURU: Disease of Fore People in New Guinea
Probably began in population in 1920.
By 1957, 80-90% of female deaths by this disease.
Characterized by hyperreflexia spacticity, resulting in starvation and death 4-20 years after exposure.
Spread by homage ritual of consumption of deceased men's brains.
Cannibalism outlawed in 1950s.
Since then, no further incidence of disease.

Creutzfeld-Jacob Syndrome (CJS):
CJS occurs primarily in Libyans of Jewish descent (1 case/million)
Maybe related to religious practice of eating RAW SHEEP BRAIN (related to scrapie in sheep?)
Several cases reported from corneal transplants, neurosurgery, use of pituitary growth hormone.

Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker Syndrome (GSSS):
GSSS is a variant of CJS.

Both CJS and GSSS are unique in that they are TRANSMISSIBLE and INHERITABLE.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE / MAD COW DISEASE):
Appeared in 1985, Peaked in 1993. Simultaneous appearance at many sites.
Meat and Bone Meal (MBM) protein supplement in COW FEED incriminated.
Cattle feed at early age; first cattle with disease 4-6 yrs olfd.
Inferred that MBM contamination began 1980-1981
MBM product of slaughterhouse offal (sheep tissue contaminated with scrapie) converted into fat and MBM.
Used steam and petroleum products.
In 1973 OPEC increased oil costs and between 1977-1980, petroleum solvent use stopped.
Thus, scrapie NOT KILLED.
BSE did NOT occur in Scotland where petroleum solvents still used.
Economic impact-European countries banned import of British beef an cattle.
10 cases of variant form of CJS also discovered.
BSE has a HIGH ability to infect OTHER SPECIES (not just cows).
Other spongiform encephalopathies are only transmitted easily within a single species.

PRIONS (Proteinaceous Infectious Particles).
Studies with certain animal models (scrapie) have demonstrated that the etiological agent for spongioform encephalopathies is a proteinaceous particle ENCODED by the CELLULAR GENOME.

Characteristics of infections caused by prions:
1. chronic progressive pathology
2. small filterable agent less than 5 nanometers in diameter
3. immunosuppressive or immunopotentiation agents do NOT alter pathology (don't help).
4. no pathological evidence of inflammation or stimulation of immune response.
5. no interferon production by immune system.
6. no virus-like structures observed by electron microscopy
7. no infectious nucleic acids or viral antigens detectable
8. infectious agent replicates to high titers/levels in tissue
9. transmissible to experimental animals

Unusual features of Prions
1. resistant to inactivation by UV light, radiation, DNA and RNA nucleases, ethanol, B-proprolactone and 10% formalin.
2. sensitive to inactivation by proteases, SDS (sodium dedecylsulfate), phenol autoclaving ("steam/pressure cooking") and iodine disinfectants.

Mechanism of Prion Replication:

CJD: iatrogenic-prion contaminated human growth hormone, dura mater (of brain), tissue grafts
Variant-infection from bovine prions
fatal familial insomnia (FFI)
fatal sporadic insomnia (FSI)

Scrapie (sheep)
Bovine Spongiform encephalopathy (Mad cow disease in cattle)
Transmissible mink encephalopathy
Chronic wasting disease (mule deer and elk)
Feline spongiform encephalopathy (cats)
Exotic ungulate encephalopathy (greater kudu, nyala, orynx)

1. Most are highly lethal and all are associated with permanent neurological damage
2. Some are associated with the development of malignancies
3. They may be associated with immunopathological disease (affect immune system)
4. Spreading due to persistent or recurrent shedding of prions, the virus and/or prion is maintained in the population. (The prion protein is not destroyed easily)

1. While encephalitis is a rare feature with viruses causing persistent infections, they are associated with a high morbidity and mortality.
2. Some cases of viral encephalitis are caused by the formation of defective/mutant virus populations (SSPE)
3. A high percentage of encephalitis cases occur in immunocompromised individuals due to REACTIVATION of latent viruses: Varicella zoster virus (chickenpox/shingles) and Epstein Barr Virus
or replication of chronic viruses: HIV
4. Herpes Simplex Virus 1 is the most common cause of sporadic encephalitis in the U.S.
5. SOME spongiform encephalopathies are caused by PRIONS
6. Prions are proteins and are not inactivated by several processes or chemicals usually used in the hospital environment.

November 22nd, 2000, 06:34 PM
K99, you are very thorough in condensing the info. :) And we are all reviewing micro the pm before thanksgiving. I know I won't be eating beef tomorrow. :) BTW, I am very guilty of not knowing how to type or spell, but I think in your previous message you mean "spasticity" instead of spacticity? :)

Happy thanksgiving everyone. :)

November 25th, 2000, 06:53 PM

Scroll down to the third news segment for the following:


WASHINGTON, DC, May 16, 2000 (ENS) - A disease in Western deer
and elk populations has been linked to so called mad cow disease,
and may be spread to humans, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and
the Humane Farming Association are warning. A fatal "mad deer"
disease called chronic wasting disease is occurring at epidemic levels
in deer and elk in Western states and on game farms, CFS legal
director Joseph Mendelson wrote in the letter to the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA). This may already be claiming human lives in the
form of young victims of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), the human
form of mad cow disease. Laboratory tests show that mad deer
disease can infect human brain tissue.

"The announcement that U.S. mad deer disease can infect the human
brain, and that it happens at a rate similar to British mad cow
disease, is extremely disturbing," said John Stauber, co-author of
"Mad Cow USA." "A deadly human dementia might be already
spreading from deer and elk into hunters in Western states, and the
policies of the FDA and other agencies are completely inadequate to
protect public health." The groups are demanding that the FDA close
loopholes in animal feed regulations to prevent the spread of mad
cow type diseases. Under current FDA regulations, animals known to
be infected with mad cow type disease can be legally fed to pigs,
chickens and pets, which in turn can be rendered and fed to cows.
Billions of pounds of slaughterhouse waste in the form of rendered
animal byproducts are fed to U.S. livestock every year as fat and
protein supplements. (~my emphasis) </blockquote>


A few more articles.

Lying in wait: It may be that nobody's genes can protect them from BSE (http://www.newscientist.com/nsplus/insight/bse/) ~ page has links to several more articles on Mad Cow.

Germany To Fight Mad Cow Disease (http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20001125/wl/germany_mad_cow_1.html) November 25, 2000 - Germany is to ban the practice of feeding meat & bone meal in animal feed tho they are planning on using up the current supply first.

November 25th, 2000, 07:28 PM
I was just about to pull out my little virology tome and I'm SO GLAD that I didn't because Klier99 posted a wonderfully detailed (yet miraculously succinct) distillation of everything about CJD, Kuru, BSE that you would ever want to know. Yeech.

November 25th, 2000, 07:39 PM
I also heard of experiments demonstrating that when prions are transmitted between different species, the progression of the disease is much slower than when in transmission occurs within the same species (spread of Kuru by ritual cannibalism). This has something to do with the fact that the prion confers a certain conformation to a protein that already exists inside our cells, that is it somehow changes the shape of normal cellular protein to something different and abnormal.

Who'd have thought? The one time what I learned in class was useful!! :)

November 25th, 2000, 07:42 PM
OK, so I am 3 days late. Skatingfan, I do have a copy of Robbins "Pathologic Basis of Disease" at home.

Was anyone still at all interested?

November 25th, 2000, 07:57 PM
I am more paranoid! They worry there is the possiblity that other animals have some version of mad cow and it doesn't show in that animal :-( I ate turkey on thanksgiving :-( And my family eats meat and so do my precious baby kitties! Also included in a timeline on Mad Cow it mentioned a Siamese cat who got a mad cow like disease in England - my babies are Meezers :-( :-( :-( & kitties can't live on tofu they NEED meat. I am already buying special food for 'em that is made of stuff approved for human comsumption but that is no protection from this *if* it is in the USA.

Any suggestions for constructive action for which I can make use of my nervous energy?????

November 27th, 2000, 11:23 AM
Boy, I'm not reading any of these threads right before Christmas.

Seriously, am I worried about Mad Cow Disease? Well, sure, but I also worry about Alzheimer's and a lot of other things that are just as unlikely at this point. I won't eat any ocean fish or anything that isn't farm raised because I'm more immediately worried about all the toxins and garbage that gets into the coastal waters and therefore into the fish and ergo into me than I am worried about mad cow disease. I'm more worried about the hormones that are pumped into cows which end up in the milk and butter I buy. I'm more worried about the various chemical pesticides that are sprayed on crops, not only getting into those crops (which is one of the reasons I garden), but also build up in the soil and get into the water table. I'm more worried about all the PCBs floating around California and ending up landing in water reservoirs. I'm more worried about e coli bacteria and salmonella poisoning (which I've had a very mild case of, mind you, and I wanted to die).

I think all you can really do about this, aside from petitioning farmers, who raise the animals, and corporate america, which buys the animals and in some cases processes the animals, is do your best to restrict your intake of such things. Buy organic vegetables, or better yet, grow your own, so you're sure there's no fecal matter on your lettuce and you know what's gone into the ground. Eat less processed food, less meat, and when you have to buy things like milk and so forth, try to buy from a health food store. You can't control absolutely everything, or you wouldn't be able to eat anything, either, but you can try to keep it to a minimum. You can't eliminate all risk. You take a risk every time you take a breath, but the alternative is worse, so you keep breathing.

November 28th, 2000, 12:42 PM
Yes, I am still interested.

November 30th, 2000, 02:47 PM
Hope U.S. govt will stay ahead of the game about cow/ chicken/ feed practices in the U.S.
Unfortunately there are deer populations in the west being infected with the deer version of spongiform encephalopathy.

December 1st, 2000, 07:04 PM

December 4th, 2000, 03:15 AM
Wow, there sure is a lot of brainy people here (uh, no pun intended, seriously!)

The whole 'when pions go bad' thing does scare me abit but like some said, there are other stuff of more immediate concern in my life. Just remember not to touch any beef if you should be traveling in Europe. The beef here is safe for now, in my opinion.

Did anybody hear of USDA seizing three flocks of Bulgarian-imported sheep this summer? The sheep have been isolated in Vermont for three years and when tests revealed that they *could* be infected with the sheep variant of the mad disease, the U.S. government took custody of the sheep. Two farmers were willing to sell their sheep to the government but the third farmer threw a fit and filed a lawsuit attempting to keep his flock - apparently he and his family have gotten very emotionally attached to the sheep. While I sympathize with the third farmer, I have to say that I side with the Feds on this one since it has been suspected that the mad cow disease orginated from the sheep's scrapie. Better to be overprotective now than pay later.

December 4th, 2000, 10:26 AM
Haven't seen you for a while, glad to see you are adding to this thread.

BTW, do you work for USDA or the US govt? Do you know whether USDA is trying to stay ahead of this thing. Are they testing cows here? do you know what is the feeding practice here in the U.S.? :)

December 4th, 2000, 03:13 PM
Hi Skatingfan! I must say first of all that when I saw the word "Korngold" under your username I went ballistic....like "How can this person advertise for such a despicable band! Where has good taste gone?! What kind of world do we live that such horrific music is found in an angel's website....oh wait.....there is another world after Korn....whoops!" (Ducking my head in shame) How embarrassed am I! Another lesson on not to jump onto conclusion.

To answer your first question, *both*. The USDA is part of the U.S.Government. I work for the research service division. The main misconception of USDA is that it is a regulatory agency, it is not. It can only set the standards. It worries me tremendously that USDA has received no increase in the research budget from Congress for the past several years and yet we are in the first line of national security defense against bioterrorism. Now in my personal humble opinion most terrorist won't go the bioterrorism route because most terrorists are men and they like things that go !Kaboom! and releasing little nasty bugs into an unsuspecting population isn't glamorous enough. Still, it only takes one.... I had suggested planting mines around the biocontainment units. Of course I was kidding and of course everybody around me rolled their eyes, but it doesn't ignore the problem of decreasing research funds due to inflation. Okay, I'll stop now.

Anyhoo, bovine spongiform encephalopathy is one of the foreign animal diseases in which I have no direct involvement. Much of the information I have heard is second hand, nothing on paper. Researchers are attempting to develop tests that could pinpoint if a living animal has the mad disease. Testing for sheep scarpie has been successful, though people do not get sick from eating infected sheep meat. Still, it would hopefully lead to more promising test kits. Imported livestock are quarantined and tested and retested and tested again for disease and any “maybe” and “could be” the animal is humanely put down and the carcass cremated, which was the case of the sheep flocks seized in Vermont. I have less information on the feeding practices of the private beef industry, though I’m sure I can find out somehow. From the research I have seen regarding Northeastern farms, the scientists heavily recommend benign grazing system and protein feed made out of soybean and other high protein vegetables. But again we are not a regulatory agency. The beef ranchers out West are more concerned about brucellosis (also no cure or vaccine) than spongiform encephalopathy. The general consensus is the US is not in immediate danger of contracting the mad cow disease and for the time being the preventative system is the best measure.

Whew, I do believe this is my longest post ever. More later.

December 4th, 2000, 07:03 PM
thanks for the info, so can I safely say, we can all sleep/eat a bit better now?

December 4th, 2000, 08:30 PM
Dr. Skatingfan and Dr. Klier, Dr. Mokey has revealed what mad-doctor activities she gets up to in her spare time, so what do you two do when you are not pondering figure skating and classical music?

The alpha-helix is the simplest, most basic protein shape--a single long protein molecule twisted into a helix, held together by the Superglue of biochemistry, hydrogen bonds (between carboxyl and amide groups on different amino acids, of course). The twist of the helix is tight enough so that there are about 3.4 amino acids in the chain per turn of the helix, if you see what I mean.

The beta-pleated sheet is formed by taking more than one alpha-helix and intercalating them together, again by hydrogen bonds. So the carboxyl/amide groups on one protein chain form hydrogen bonds to the corresponding groups on another protein chain, and etc., ad infinitum. The turns of one molecule's helix are sort of slipped in between the turns of another's--this cause the twist of the helices to become less tight, to accomodate the other molecule between them, and so there are many more amino acid groups per turn of the helix. You can have an almost infinitely varied number of amino acids per turn, since you can intercalate as many helices together in many possible ways. The proteins all intercalated together can take up many morphologies, such as a "pleated sheet" (a very common one).

skatingfan, my colleague has found a way to distinguish the normal prion involved in Alzheimer's from the abnormal prion that assumes a different conformation--he uses Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization Mass Spectroscopy. If you want to get one for your basement, they are around $2-3 million each, plus the time to get a Ph.D. to learn how to operate it. Interested? :)

I am not afraid of Mad Cow Disease only because there are many worse viruses and resistant-to-everything, thrives-on-vancomycin, bacteria around. I personally am picking drug-resistant tuberculosis as the winner for the next pandemic. If flu could kill 40 to 100 million in 1918, when the world had a lot fewer people in it, in today's crowded world drug-resistant TB ought to be able to go over the 100 million mark easily.

Yes, I know that TB isn't fatal within a few days, like flu was. But, with all those other agents, you have to go to the trouble of eating contaminated food or having sex with an infected individual, to catch the disease. With drug-resistant TB, all you have to do is cough in a crowded room, and everyone is exposed. So, my money's on that (and my handkerchief is over my face when I'm in elevators).

And they've already documented cases of people who caught it just from being in the same airplane as a carrier (probably sat on the runway breathing each other's exhaled air for a long time).

Gosh, aren't you glad that I and my cheery outlook joined you on this thread?

December 4th, 2000, 08:50 PM
Watch me type all this out, and have someone beat me to it. ;) But I feel I should at least use my years of bio knowledge for something...

alpha helix and the beta pleated sheet are in the secondary structure of the protein, which is determined by the primary structure (which is the amino acid sequences.) There is folding in certain regions of the protein which form the different confirmations.

alpha helix-rod like, and has the greatest stability. The helix is composed of a spiral chain of amino acids stabilized by H bonds. Turns are right handed in the helix.

beta pleated sheet-In this confirmation, a single polypeptide chain folds back on itself, or several chains run in either parallel or antiparallel fashion next to each other. Each structure is stabilized by H bonds formed between atoms present on adjacent chains.

There's also random coiling, and a protein can be a combo of the three.

I know it prions were already spoken about, but just adding my two cents. prions have to do with the secondary structure of the protein. They are infectious agents made just of proteins, which is extremely odd, and scary if you think of it (no DNA needed), and when it was first discovered, people couldn't believe it. They found it originally in the sheep. Now, I think in simple terms, a prion is the altered form of the normal protein. You can only get infected if you have the normal gene. I am sure they are using this to figure out some sort of cure. Anyway, the difference betwen a prion and the normal gene is the folding confirmation. The alpha helix is the normal gene, while the beta pleated sheet is the prion. This is because the beta pleated sheet version is hydrophilic, so it aggregates in the cytoplasm and extra cellular space, and kills neurons. The disease (such as scrapies) causes the normal gene to fold incorrectly, so the normal is converted to the mutant form. This is why you have to have the normal gene in the first place for you to get the disease.

Did I make any sense? A lot was from memory (excpet the exact details from my genetics book on the alpha helix and beta pleated sheet confimations of the protein.) I'm sure my text book has more on prions if you want (there's actually a whole story about Mad Cow in the book). They give a link for reseach to www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/madcow (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/madcow)

December 4th, 2000, 08:51 PM
See, I KNEW someone was going to beat me to all this stuff. ;)

Forgot to give my opinion on getting Mad Cow, etc...I dont think about it at all, and I consider myself pretty paraniod about some things. I just don't see it as a huge epidemic, yet.

All those who responded...what do you guys do? I know axel is a med student, but I don't know about anyone else. You know me, always curious, trying to figure out what to do with my life. :)

December 5th, 2000, 10:24 AM
But Heather, you explained it so well, and without all the Grim Reaper stuff that I posted!

And what do you do, besides being Webmistress Extraordinaire, to know so much about protein secondary structures?

I am a chemistry professor, and recently almost got promoted to figure-skating journalist, but SW disqualified me on the all-too-true grounds that I know a little something about figure skating, and thus would contaminate the pristine ignorance of the rest of the journalists. Sigh!!!

As a result of this disappointment, I am brooding about The Coming Plague, the very very scary ending of Ronin, and all kinds of dreary things....:)

December 5th, 2000, 02:01 PM
I applaud both of you explaining it so well, ah....

So what will be the subject of our next paranoia wave? ;)

December 5th, 2000, 02:25 PM
Greetings all! I think it's just great how educated and informative this forum is. Ignorant masses this is not. To help answer "what is the Feds doing to prevent a possible epidemic", here is the condense version:

USDA has one of the world's most aggressive surveillance programs in place and in the past ten years, no cases of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) have been confirmed in the U.S.A. There have been NO cases of BSE in native cattle in North America. There was one case of BSE in a single cow in Canada imported from Great Britain. The affected cow and all its herdmates has been humanely put down, as well as other cattle determined to be a risk by animal health officials in Canada.

The USDA policy has been proactive and preventative and measures are in place for surveillance, prevention, education, and response. Import restrictions have been in place since 1989, and active surveillance efforts began in 1990. The USDA continually monitors and assesses all ongoing events and research findings regarding spongiform encephalopathies, as new information and knowledge may lead to revised conclusions and prevention measures. A Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE) Working Group was created to analyze risks of BSE to the United States, disseminate accurate information about the TSE's, and act as a reference source for responding to questions about TSE's. Information are actively shared and met with State and Federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and stakeholders to assure we are taking the proper actions in response to changing knowledge and information concerning BSE.

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) educates veterinary practitioners, veterinary laboratory diagnosticians, industry and producers on the clinical signs and pathology of BSE. APHIS monitors the remaining cattle imported from the United Kingdom. Since 1990, more than 60 veterinary diagnostic laboratories across the United States and USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories continue to examine hundreds of cattle brains each year submitted from adult cattle displaying neurologic signs either at slaughter or on the farm. FSIS performs antemortem slaughter inspection at all federally-inspected slaughter establishments, and inspectors are alert for central nervous system (CNS) disorders. Any CNS suspect animals are condemned and tested. Public health laboratories also submit to APHIS any samples that have tested negative for rabies. The network of private veterinary practitioners that refers unusual cases to veterinary schools or State diagnostic laboratories around the United States provides an extensive informal but important surveillance system. USDA has trained more than 250 State and Federal field veterinarians located throughout the United States in the recognition and diagnosis of foreign animal diseases, including BSE.

On August 4, 1997, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established regulations that prohibit the feeding of *most* mammalian proteins to ruminants. (Now what is mean by "most" I can't say for sure)

Has the United States imported cattle from the United Kingdom?
Yes. Between 1981 and 1989, 496 cattle were imported from the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. These U.K. imports have been traced, and there are only 4 cattle still alive in the United States as of February 1999. All of these animals have been under quarantine since April 1996. USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is currently attempting to purchase these cattle for diagnostic research purposes. In July 1989, the importation of live ruminants from the United Kingdom was banned.

In addition, 2 head of cattle imported from Belgium in 1996 are now under quarantine. APHIS, in cooperation with the States and industry, continues to purchase these animals for diagnostic purposes. No evidence of BSE has been found in any of these imported animals.

Can we account for all of the U.K.-imported cattle?
All but 32 animals have been traced. All cattle of unknown status would be greater than 10 years of age and would have a reduced likelihood of developing BSE at this late date.

What measures has USDA-APHIS taken to prevent the introduction of BSE?
To prevent BSE from entering the United States, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has restricted the importation of live ruminants and certain ruminant products from countries where BSE is known to exist since 1989.

Certain products cannot be imported into the United States, except under special permit for scientific, educational or research purposes, or under special conditions to be used in cosmetics. These products include serum, glands, collagen, etc. Importation requests for ruminant material are considered individually, and authorization is granted only to those materials that would not allow exposure to ruminants in the United States.

As of December 12, 1997, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has prohibited the importation of live ruminants and most ruminant products from all of Europe until a thorough assessment of the risks can be made. The new restrictions apply to Albania, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the former Yugoslavian republic of Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden. These actions are in addition to those already in place regarding countries that had reported BSE in native cattle.

This action was taken in 1997 because the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg have reported their first cases of BSE in native-born cattle. There is evidence that European countries may have had high BSE risk factors for several years and less-than-adequate surveillance. Additionally, Belgium reported that the cow diagnosed with BSE was processed into the animal food chain.

What actions are taken at USDA-inspected slaughter establishments to ensure that cattle with BSE would not enter the human food supply?
All cattle presented for slaughter in the United States are inspected before slaughter by FSIS for signs of CNS impairment. Any animals exhibiting neurologic signs during this inspection are condemned, and the meat is not permitted for use as human food. The brains from these animals are submitted to USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories for analysis.

Does USDA have a response plan in the event a case of BSE or TSE is diagnosed in U.S. cattle?
In 1990, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service developed a plan to respond to a confirmation of BSE in the U.S. In August 1996, a joint APHIS-FSIS working group updated this BSE response plan. The purpose of the plan is to provide a step-by-step plan of action in the event that a case of BSE is detected in the United States. The plan outlines those events that should take place, including identification of a suspect animal, confirmation, the epidemiologic investigation, animal and herd disposition activities, and communication of information.

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Note: Well, there you have it, the condense version. Not a perfect system but it is the best one USDA, FDA and their cooperators can put in place for the time being. More detailed information can be found on the USDA website: www.aphis.usda.gov/oa/bse/ (http://www.aphis.usda.gov/oa/bse/)

BTW, Skatingfan, how did you figure out I worked for USDA?

To answer another question, I am a biologist by education and training however I have recently turned to the Dark Side ;) and am part of the administrative and financial overseer. As I complained in my earlier post, money doled out by Congress is a problem. Military gets about 43% of the Federal Budget while USDA gets less than 2% of the pie. It's a very low calorie diet.

Interestingly it is my understanding that the USDA and its "power" is the envy of the European nations. So we must be doing something right. Personally I think Australia has the best food inspection system and quality control in place. Their food can be accepted anywhere almost without question.

December 5th, 2000, 02:49 PM
Thanks, I guess I can sleep better now, except, in 97, I was in Italy and I ate steak! :)

So further questions, if USDA is not regulatory, what is the FDA?

How I figure you worked for the USDA, I remember reading one of your posts months ago, I got an impression that you work for some regulatory/inspection agencies in the govt, that you are a scientist and at the time I thought you work with forestry or wild life ? But when you post USDA in this thread, I then remember maybe you are with USDA. :)

December 6th, 2000, 01:04 PM
Okay, I'm almost ready to celebrate. Just one more final written exam, 1 final practical exam, and then I can celebrate finals being over by paying my bills! :lol
...And get some Christmas shopping done before heading home...

You know, skatingfan, I'm impressed what a memory you have for details, and especially your "detective work" piecing together backgrounds for posters here that goes beyond their profiles pages. (I mean this in a positive way :) )
However, you certainly don't leave many clues about yourself lying around. From your intelligent commentary on biochemistry, nutrition, pathology, western classical music, sports, etc... you are obviously a very well educated poster, but that's about all that I can tell. I'm not sure whether you're in the health professions or education. Then there is the fiction section, and it would seem that you are actually a skating coach named Beth, but there's another skating coach named Beth here, and maybe that was just in MK stories that people were writing. If so, then your two of your students might be G-Man and Barang, and I'm not sure who else. The problem is, that would place you either in Minnesota or in California (I don't expect you to reveal your location, BTW :) ) and that's where I get stuck.
Maybe after I've been around a few more years here I'll have picked up on more clues... But until then, it's complete dentures :rollin :lol :lol :lol

December 6th, 2000, 01:18 PM
You guys would make our virology staff so proud!!!

Sorry I haven't been vigilant enough about my visits here. I meant to dig Cotran out for you guys. Sorry you had to look it up skating fan!

My opinion on BSE or CJD, yes I believe there are many other infectious agents I'd rather be worrying about. True, there's the whole new variant Creutzfield Jakob Disease that's associated with ingestion of contaminated cow meat and BSE, but the incidence of mortality seems relatively low if we look at it in the grand scheme of things. Same thing with the whole West Nile Virus scare. Everyone's up in arms to control West Nile when the reality is that it causes a meningitis that is targetted towards the immunosuppressed and the elderly. Most healthy people should not have to worry about it. We have other arthropod borne viruses that cause the same thing right here at home...Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Western Equine Encephalitis, and even St. Louis Encephalitis (for which incidentally there is no vaccine). But yet West Nile consistently makes the front page.

Klier! It's all about the home stretch! One more exam on the 23rd and I am on vacation!!!

December 6th, 2000, 01:23 PM

You have to take an exam on the eve of Christmas Eve? Wow -- that's dedication... Good luck with that, BTW. I certainly don't envy the medical students with all of the didactic exams you have to take!

(Off topic, but how did you make the switch from Botany to Human Medicine? That must be a difficult transition from your undergrad major, but obviously you did very well on the MCATs to get into medical school. :) )

December 6th, 2000, 05:06 PM
Well if you are still reading, really best of wishes to your exams. K99, glad to hear you only have 2 more to go. :) And you will be heading home, just make sure you have a safe trip, and log on to MKF more often.

Axelkid, best of wishes for finals too.

Heather, you did not mention anything about finals, but I know you must be busy with studying, and I always appreciate your effort that you put in your page even in such busy times.

December 6th, 2000, 06:18 PM
This is my last off-topic post I'll put here, I promise!

Okay, skatingfan, I am dying to know :) ... Are either G-man or barang actually your skating students, or was that truly fiction in the MKFanFiction section on the "floor-skating" challenge? (What is floor skating, by the way? It sounds like people in socks on a slippery floor, but maybe they're on in-line skates with rubber toe-picks/stops? I'd imagine those are too heavy to do difficult jumps and impossible to spin in on 1 foot.)

December 6th, 2000, 07:21 PM
I have all you guys beat...I have a final on my 21st bday :( *sigh*. I have two on Monday (the 18th), one on Tuesday (sigh, at least it's not at 2am), and one on Friday. So excuse me if I'm kind of out of it until the 23rd.

SJB-I'm a senior bio major (with no clue what I'm doing in a few semesters when I graduate), and I seem to learn about proteins in just about every class I take (general bio, cell and molec, anatomy, genetics), that at least some of it sticks in my head. ;) That doesn't mean I know much of what I'm talking about that.