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Reply #11: I know prions take a long time to manifest as disease [View All]

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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-16-06 10:43 AM
Response to Reply #6
11. I know prions take a long time to manifest as disease
but until disease is manifested, the load in muscle tissue is negligible. Yes, we're missing all the other cattle on that feed lot who have been infected, but they're only there for a few weeks, not enough time for prion disease to disseminate through all nerve tissue, much less muscle tissue.

Most neurologists go through careers never seeing the human equivalent, Creutzfeld-Jakob disease. I've seen three cases in 40 years. It is incredibly rare.

The best thing we can do is minimize the problem. When a cow/steer starts showing symptoms, you can bet the brain and spinal cord are affected and infective and quite probably the meat is, also. Eliminating meat and blood from other downer animals from the feed system is essential to reduce transmission. Nothing is going to stop it completely, though, and only culling downer animals of all species and removing them from the food supply will slow it down.

You can burn prions to ashes and they'll still be infective. You can compost them for years and they'll still be infective. They are incredibly stable. That's what is scariest about the prion theory of spongiform encephalitis. One of the few things you can do to destroy them is thermal depolymerization, an under utilized technology in a lot of areas.

I don't eat meat because I don't particularly like it. However, if I did crave it, I'd go with the statistics. V-CJD is a very scary disease, and once you've seen a case in a human, you'll never forget it. However, it remains one of the rarest of the rare diseases out there.
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