BSE and CJD Explained

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A Basic Explanation of the Cause(s) of BSE and CJD in the United Kingdom

This presentation outlines how BSE and CJD could have arisen in the United Kingdom. No attempt has been made to put a weight on the different causes. It should be noted that this is only one way of representing the origins of BSE and CJD. There are many other explanations for the prion diseases in cows and humans.

The presentation provides a list of some of the possible causes of the disease:

1) Organophosphates:

This theory is mentioned because it is interesting and there is some support for it.

The relevance of organophosphates to BSE is outlined in the following book: Dying for a Hamburger: Murray Waldman and Marjorie Lamb (2004:187)

It is stated that "there is a possibility that ... pesticides (organophosphates) could increase the susceptibility of cattle to BSE". This explanation is likely to be the least plausible. There was an interesting comment below the video, on you tube. This comment has been adapted: "the Fore people lived in nature with no pesticide, or any chemicals, yet a very large percentage of them died of Kuru", a form of prion disease. This suggests that a prion disease has been created and spread without any chemical exposure.

2) The Conventional Explanation:

BSE occurred spontaneously in a cow. The disease was then spread through the practice of dead cows being fed to other cows. Humans then ate the cows infected with the BSE. The evidence, from Kuru, provides evidence for the spread of prion disease, within the same (human) species, through the oral route.

3) The Growth Hormone Explanation:

BSE arose through poorly thought-out experiments using growth hormones. There is separate evidence that some CJD (human prion disease) has been caused by growth hormones.

A cow, with sporadic BSE, could have been used in the development of a bovine growth hormone. This growth hormone could then have been transferred into a cow. The cow then acquired BSE. Humans could have acquired CJD through meat consumption.

Alternatively, humans could have acquired the disease through a vaccination. The weakness of attributing CJD to vaccination, is that it is unclear what type of vaccines could have spread the disease. It is unclear whether oral vaccines need to be examined or whether a vaccine injected is more relevant.

A Basic Video on How and When Individuals could acquire variant CJD

The video aims to list some of the factors that may be responsible for variant CJD. This video does not try to weight the probability of the individual factors causing CJD. The factors which could explain CJD are listed below.

1. Mechanically Recovered Meat: The link between food (MRM) and CJD can be seen in the documentary.

2. People with sore throats may have been more vulnerable to CJD. It is possible that there is a link between sore throats and CJD.

3. It is possible that vaccines is a relevant causal factor; see the page on growth hormones and vaccines.

4. Blood transfusions: There is evidence that blood transfusion can cause CJD more quickly than the oral consumption of food.

The video shows that a person's genetic type can determine how quickly they suffer from the disease.

The video was compiled in 2009 so the situation may have changed since it was completed.

A Response to the Agriculture Minister's Statement on Mad Cow Disease from 1990

This is a PowerPoint presentation which comments on the statement made by the Agriculture Minister (16/5/1990).

There is an interesting BBC report which provides further information (16th May 1990). Also, there is a background news report from November 1986. There is a news website which suggests Britain's former Chief Medical Officer was not fully informed about the unfolding BSE crisis.

The Agriculture Minister's Statement on Mad Cow Disease from 1990

Interview, from 2008, with the former Agriculture Minister

A Documentary on the roots and consequences of Mad Cow Disease in the United Kingdom (c 2002)