The cows are mad: Me and vCJD

In 1997, on a dark winter night back home for a week from the AECC, I met a former girlfriend who also had recently gone off to university.

During our chat it became obvious she was lip reading and she had not been deaf before.

Not only had she lost a lot of her hearing, she was also having balance issues and had been falling over.

Over time, I heard she had been diagnosed with variant CJD, the human form of “mad cow disease“.

She died relatively quickly and while I was pleased to be able to attend her funeral, it was a brutal event.

Recently, I came across a podcast called “The cows are mad” on BBC sounds.

Eleven short episodes, really well done.

Some of the information about the government was shocking, and the pouring away of animal remains into a well that could potentially end up in drinking water was equally worrying.

But it was episode seven that really caught my attention.

Mark Purdey was an organic farmer, that refused to toe the line when the government tried to enforce the use of an organophosphate insecticide called Phosmet.

Phosmet was to be poured along the backs (along the spine) of cows to stop the warble fly damaging cows.

He believed this may have been part of what causes the prion disease, CJD.

He believed it caused a loss of copper and accumulation of manganese in the brain, which ultimately caused a prion disease.

There certainly are a ton of odd things that make little sense about vCJD in humans.

If it was eating contaminated meat but with a long latent period, why have so few people died in the last 20 years?

Only 177 in the UK.

Why did lifelong vegetarians die?

Alan Ebringer PhD, who did all the research on the bacteria Klebsiella and its links with ankylosing spondylitis (AS), via molecular mimicry.

He believes vCJD is a aggressive form of multiple sclerosis (MS) found in mostly young people.

He notes that sinusitis is more common in MS patients and they have isolated actinobacteria from the sinuses and he believes it is molecular mimicry, with the immune system accidently attacking your brain tissue, while attempting to attack the bacteria.

Last in the episode was a discussion about chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer in north America and Europe.

First discovered in 1967, this is effectively a prion diease like CJD but in deer.

CWD most likely originated at a Fort Collins, Colorado, research facility in the 1960s where deer were reportedly kept in pens also used by sheep from a project on scrapie, a related disease.

This raises the question if this was inadvertently created by a USA government laboratory.

Beyond that, the question is, if people are killing and eating deer with the infection in situ, could it cause the disease in humans?

That is not clear, and the government and farming industry are not interested in finding out.

One other podcast was The Gift.

If you have your DNA looked at by 23 and me or ancestry, then you might find out you have more or possibly less relatives than you thought !!

Is your Dad really your Dad?

Do you have any siblings you didn’t know about?

Are your genes priming you for diseases like breast cancer (BRAC1/2) or dementia (APOE4).

This was pretty shocking and amazing in equal measures.

Fertility clinics where the husband of the female Doctor performing the work, is the father of 600 children.

To mix up’s with seamen in clinics, to murderers sudenly being found 30-40 years after the crime.

All those cheeky affairs back in the day are now being slowly found out.

FYI my DNA is boringly British and there is no unexpected new relatives.

Worth a listen