Thursday, May 10, 2012

2 California Dairy Farms Quarantined In Mad Cow Disease Investigation...

In case you’ve missed the latest information on the Mad Cow Disease (BSE) situation in California, it was announced on May 3rd that the USDA has quarantined two California Dairy Farms. The locations of which have not yet been disclosed. The USDA is also investigating the rendering plant where the cow was discovered and a cattle ranch where the original infected cow was apparently raised. The USDA is also investigating 10 different cow-feed producers, presumably looking for possible contaminants. The USDA has also confirmed that the original infected cow gave birth twice. Once to a stillborn calf, and the second calf was located out of state where it was promptly euthanized. Officials say it did not have BSE.

Over the past couple of weeks the USDA has been working very hard to reassure the public of the safety of U.S. beef. They continue to insist that the most recent case of BSE was a spontaneous isolated case. They point to the fact that the cow developed a very rare form of BSE called Atypical BSE or ‘L-type’ - not contracted from eating infected feed -, as proof that U.S. beef is safe. They say that L-type BSE has never led to human vCJD, but are they just covering their ass?

Peer reviewed findings by a French neuroscientist named Thierry Baron, published in the January issue of ‘Emerging Infectious Diseases’ suggests it’s too soon to say whether or not incidents like the California dairy cow are spontaneous. The studies he conducted on mouse lemurs suggested that they may contract L-type BSE easier then the classical type.

A consumers union scientist named Dr. Michael Hansen, who has long studied BSE also thinks it’s possible that L-type BSE is “not necessarily a spontaneous case.”

Up until recently many prion researchers also thought that L-type BSE posed little threat to humans because it’s so rare that people aren’t typically exposed to it. However a molecular biologist at The University of Edinburgh recently found the L-type prion simply has a harder time infecting normal human brain tissue than the classical type. Not that it can’t.

Even if L-type prions arise spontaneously by some genetic mutation in a cow that doesn’t mean other cows can not become infected. For instance if L-type BSE goes undetected and parts of that infected cow are fed to chickens - as is legal and standard practice in the industry - and then the feces and litter from those chickens are fed back to cows - which again is standard practice - those cows can become infected with L-type BSE.

The USDA has also stated that the Quarantine, and subsequent investigations are entirely routine, and standard procedure. They say there is nothing to suggest either dairy or cattle ranch will yield the discovery of any more infected cattle. I choose to remain skeptical on this point. After all government agencies are not exactly in the habit of informing the public of anything, unless someone within that agency thinks a public health threat is significant. It also seems unlikely that the USDA would spend so much time on a ‘routine’ procedure that nobody within the agency apparently thinks is cause for concern.

I also question the information provided about the original cows age, and offspring. Originally the cow in question was reported to be around five years of age. The cow is now being reported as being eleven. The USDA says the cow In question had only two offspring. Yet this is a dairy cow we are talking about. To produce milk a cow must be pregnant or nursing. Cows do not produce milk spontaneously, like every other human and non-human animal cows must be pregnant or nursing young in order to produce milk. It doesn’t matter what angle you look at it, that’s a fact. Yet if the cow is eleven how has it only had 2 offspring? A cow’s gestation period is roughly the same as a human female, an eleven year old dairy cow should have had many more calves then that. Six to ten I’d think depending on how old it was when it was first impregnated, and how long a time lapses between birthing one calve and becoming pregnant again. I could buy a five year old cow having only two calves, but an eleven year old cow? One that’s presumably in the dairy industry? Unless the cow wasn’t being used to produce milk it seems a little fishy. It makes me wonder if the cow in question did have more offspring that we either weren’t told about, or weren’t found at all. Considering the U.S. doesn’t track it’s cattle it’s conceivable that there could potentially be unaccounted for offspring.

With situations like this I can’t help wondering what information is not being released, and what we’re not being told. As always my advice is to do your own research, think for yourselves, and when the people who have the most to gain from your allegiance give you their assurances take their words with a grain of salt.

For more information on Mad Cow Disease and concerns about vCJD refer to my earlier post on the matter - Here. You can also check out the articles below. If any more information is forthcoming I’ll keep you posted.

Food Safety News


Huffington Post


  1. Craziness. So glad I don't eat animal flesh or drink milk from animals. It's pretty scary to think of all the potential cases we're not hearing about.