http://scaleofuniverse.com/ http://scaleofuniverse.com/ Just a quick app because we were talking about scale!
Don your tinfoil hats 10: Cow to mink prion transmission, and infected growth hormone 11: The beginning of BSE, and the failures of the ministry 12: The escalation and public reaction to the BSE outbreak
Chapter 10- The Silencing 1985- TME appears in Wisconsin Marsh and Hartsough arrive on the scene They suppose that the mink are eating scrapie infected sheep Check the farmers meticulous records: Downer cows were a major part of the minks’ diet Marsh and Hartsough conclude that the agent must come from the cows
Marsh isn’t very compelling on the public stage… He attended a cattlemen’s meeting warning the farmers of the scrapie-like agent He had inoculated cows with TME from minks, and vice versa The disease was transferable both ways, and both modes of transmission were lethal Marsh didn’t have the public personality to fight the cattle industry The suppliers ignored his warnings
The Growth Hormone Scandal Only human growth hormone was functional at treating growth disorders Source of hGH? The pituitary gland of the brain This was a miracle! There was a huge demand for pituitary glands from cadavers Until one 17 year old boy was diagnosed with CJD. Sound familiar? What are the ramifications of person to person spread of prion diseases?
Chapter 11- Mad Cows April 1985- England A cow named Jonquil started showing unnerving symptoms: shaking, staggering, seeming to hallucinate She was taken to a rendering plant, and chopped into feed.
The Beginning of the Ministry’s Involvement Several other animals at this farm started showing the same symptoms Soon the symptoms were showing in farms in completely different counties Rules out infectious disease 1986- The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food launched an investigation
Wells’ Work Gerald Wells, a veterinary pathologist, examines some of the brain tissue Saw typical scrapie spongiform tissue Scrapie hadn’t been documented in cows previously Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) His research did not appear in a journal until a year after he submitted it There was not much of a media response, but the government took notice
Alarm at the Ministry “I was just down the corridor when the guys from the central veterinary laboratory came in. Quite a hubub… they were talking about scrapie. I understood scrapie. But they were also talking about some things I’d never heard of—Creutzfelt- Jakob disease and some thing called ‘kuru,’ a rare form of CJD once common in New Guinea among the Fore tribe of cannibals.
Dr. John Wilesmith By the end of 1987, there are 420 confirmed BSE cases. The ministry hires Dr. Wilesmith, a veterinarian, to investigate. December 1987- It is determined that BSE is associated with a feedborne source- specifically the meat and bone meal coming from the rendering factories.
Beef or Dairy? Mostly, the meat/bonemeal was fed to mostly dairy cows, not cows that are sold for meat. Isn’t BSE non-transmissible in milk? Devil’s advocate for the ministry-if the agent isn’t getting into the products, why should we care about BSE?
Why did the ministry act the way it did? The ministry had both Wells’ and Wilesmith’s data. The author blames the ministry for keeping the public “blissfully unaware” of the disease. Do you think what the ministry did was right? Should the public have had the right to know? What would be the implications of media coverage?
Ministry tries to keep a low profile “They vetoed any suggestion that questions could be raised to the Parliament concerning BSE and instead suggested putting a paragraph into a journal an obscure veterinary journal that nobody read.” “The ministry does not yet see BSE as a serious threat to public health”
The Story Breaks April 22, 1988 The Sunday Telegraph and Farming News publish articles describing the disease. Many critics accuse the ministry of ignoring the extent of BSE. They also claim that the ministry’s primary focus was not the public’s safety. Do you think this is true?
12- The Cover Up Eating scrapie infected meat from sheep was safe for human consumption. The author argues that the ministry “simply ignored the possibility that this disease could ever be transmitted to humans” Do you agree with the author? If so, how should the ministry have treated BSE?
The Ministry Acts BSE becomes a “notifiable disease;” this suspends the use of animal proteins in feeds for cows and sheep. Another interest group steps on the scene: the Renderer’s Association. They had a huge supply, and did not want to lose their industry. “So what if another scrapie outbreak was on their doorstep?” The brains of these infected cows were routinely sold in public over the counter butcher shops, as well as baked into popular meat pies
The ministry’s go-to line: “there is no evidence of any risk to humans” Meanwhile, Dr. Tim Holt writes an article that warns the public about the connection of BSE to scrapie, kuru, and CJD. June 20 1988- the first time BSE is recognized as an “epidemic” More than 600 cows had already died from BSE.
BSE is Recognized Compulsory slaughter of infected animals is enforced Farmers are to get 50% of the market value price for giving up their animals. The farmers hated this! How could the compensation price relate to the spread of the BSE epidemic? Even so, the government still does not want outsider assistance Even when Marsh offered up his services, the ministry declined
By October 1988, there were 70 new cases of BSE being reported every month. This is a much faster rate than previously predicted. Breakthrough: BSE had been successfully transmitted to mice, showing that the agent is capable of interspecies transmission. It was predicted that there would be a total of 17,000-20,000 cases of BSE in total; this turned out to be a gross underestimate.
What to do with the bodies? The government had decided to incinerate the corpses of the infected cows, but they were starting to pile up. The transportation and slaughter of these cows was a gory process The public became additionally aware after viewing photographs taken of these tragedies.
BSE spreads to other countries By 1989, the first international cases of BSE are starting to spring up. However, Britain wants to continue to export the possibly infected meat and bonemeal abroad. Germany, USA, France… all these places start boycotting British meat. Even starving Russia. The ministry tries very hard to assure the public that there is nothing wrong with British meat, but to no avail.
More Compensation As expected, farmers were trying to sneak their possibly infected cows into the normal market instead of eliminating the infected ones. The ministry itself led to the spread of BSE because the government didn’t offer enough money for infected cows in the beginning. How else did the ministry unintentionally spread BSE through its actions?
Conclusion: The epidemic is showing no signs of slowing. By June 1992, there were now 631 cases per week, with almost 100,000 new cases reported over the past 4 years. There are many sources of blame for the situation. Who do you think was at fault for this situation? What could have been done better?