Mad Cow in God’s Country


Public health officials in Indiana are busy doing what Idaho public health officials did two years ago: claiming a cluster of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) victims is a mere coincidence.

If the four who died of CJD since January in Allen County in northeast Indiana–five if you count a death in Lynnville in 2005–had the sporadic version of CJD which strikes one in a million and has no clear cause then it’s bad luck, a tragedy and Something We Need To Study Further.

But if the Indiana patients had variant CJD (vCJD) caused by something in their environment or lifestyle like the four letter word everyone is avoiding?

Let’s just say this is why "food disparagement laws" were slapped on the books after US talk show queen Oprah Winfrey "disparaged" hamburgers on her TV show in 1998. To protect ranches, packers, big food processors and agribusiness interests from economic collapse if their products are found to sicken and kill.

Ever wonder why the Texas and Alabama ranches that produced mad cows in 2004 and 2006 were allowed to remain anonymous? And keep doing business? The grocery stores and restaurants in California that SERVED meat from the first US mad cow from Washington state in 2003? Thank your state law makers.

Still trying to spin the CJD deaths–"’Mad-cow’ variant not now a risk; Only 3 vCJD cases in the US were confirmed; all had links to UK beef" says an article in Fort Wayne’s Journal Gazette in June; what are they trying to say?–is often accomplished at the price of good science.

Because only an autopsy can determine whether CJD was sporadic or variant and two of the Indiana patients– three of Idaho’s nine–received direct burials with no autopsy after coroners or morticians declined the bodies.

And even after autopsy, questions can remain as in the 2004 case of 49-year-old California CJD patient Patrick Hicks whose doctor was assured by the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center (NPDPSC) in Cleveland that his patient didn’t have variant CJD without conducting the tests specified on its own protocol.

NPDPSC spokespeople said they didn’t have frozen brain tissue to conduct the gold standard Western blot test but they knew their autopsy contractor–1-800-AUTOPSY (sic)–lacked the ability to provide frozen tissue when they ordered the work says the UPI.

And even if postmortem tests can find the accumulation of protease resistant prion proteins (PrPSc) thought to signify vCJD in the brain–converted into the infectious particles from normal prions (PrPC) in a morbid game of tag and without a whiff of DNA say scientists–some CJD experts question whether the diseases are even different.

So public health officials are forced to fall back on begging the question and assuming that which they are trying to prove. The deceased patients were too old to have vCJD, they’re saying, because vCJD doesn’t occur in people that old.

Feel better?

This is the same kind of reached-the-party-to-which-we-are-speaking science behind a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the Centers for Disease Control in 2002 about chronic wasting disease–a kind of mad deer disease–called, "Fatal Degenerative Neurologic Illness in Men Who Participated in Wild Game Feasts."

In the report, a patient who died of CJD was said to not have the variant kind because the wild game he ate "did not originate from known CWD-endemic areas." Anyone hear of the word "yet"?

But Ronele Hicks, Patrick Hicks’ widow says he WASN’T too old for vCJD and had not traveled to the UK or undergone surgical risks either.

"If it’s from beef, am I next?" she asks pointing out that she and Patrick ate the same meals for 22 years.

Or, if the CJD was genetically linked as the government has implied, should she worry about her sons?

The families of the Indiana and Idaho patients are voicing similar fears while public health officials prattle on about there being no risk of catching the disease through ordinary person-to-person contact. And how people shouldn’t worry about using the same surgical instruments used on the patients.

What about eating the same foods?

MARTHA ROSENBERG is staff cartoonist on the Evanston Roundtable. She can be reached at mrosenberg@evmark.org


Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism
Dan Glazebrook
Deadliest Terror in the World: the West’s Latest Gift to Africa
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
Mark Hand
Escape From New York: the Emancipation of Activist Cecily McMillan
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Thomas S. Harrington
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe and the Death of Ezra Schwartz
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability
Yves Engler
Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Mining Industry
Tom H. Hastings
ISIS and Changing the Game
Lars Jørgensen
Vive la Résistance
John Halle
A Yale Education as a Tool of Power and Privilege
Norman Pollack
Syrian “Civil War”?: No, A Proxy War of Global Confrontation
Sheldon Richman
Let the Refugees In
Ron Jacobs
Rosa Luxembourg–From Street Organizer to Street Name
James A Haught
The Values of Jesus
Binoy Kampmark
British Austerity: Cutting One’s Own Backyard
Ed Rampell
45 Years: A Rumination on Aging
November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving
Joseph Grosso
The Enduring Tragedy: Guatemala’s Bloody Farce
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Imperial Myths: the Enduring Lie of the US’s Origin
Ralph Nader
The Joys of Solitude: a Thanksgiving!

Joseph G. Ramsey
Something to be Thankful For: Struggles, Seeds…and Surprises
Dan Glazebrook
Turkey Shoot: the Rage of the Impotent in Syria
Andrew Stewart
The Odious President Wilson
Colin Todhunter
Corporate Parasites And Economic Plunder: We Need A Genuine Green Revolution
Rajesh Makwana
Ten Billion Reasons to Demand System Change
Joyce Nelson
Turkey Moved the Border!
Richard Baum
Hillary Clinton’s Meager Proposal to Help Holders of Student Debt
Sam Husseini
A Thanksgiving Day Prayer
November 25, 2015
Jeff Taylor
Bob Dylan and Christian Zionism
Dana E. Abizaid
Provoking Russia
Oliver Tickell
Syria’s Cauldron of Fire: a Downed Russian Jet and the Battle of Two Pipelines
Patrick Cockburn
Trigger Happy: Will Turkey’s Downing of Russian Jet Backfire on NATO?
Robert Fisk
The Soothsayers of Eternal War
Russell Mokhiber
The Coming Boycott of Nike
Ted Rall
Like Father Like Son: George W. Bush Was Bad, His Father May Have Been Worse
Matt Peppe
Bad Policy, Bad Ethics: U.S. Military Bases Abroad