Helping Our Peninsula's Environment


"Mad Cow" and related Diseases Review


By David Dilworth Executive Director, HOPE

Sources - U.S. Center for Disease Control, U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Eric Schlosser's NYT Op-Ed,, NewScientist & "Mad-Cow USA" (Excellent Book) by Rampton and Stauber (Click here to download a free copy of the book)

Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE)

"Millions of British television viewers watched the harrowing final days of 14-year-old Zoe Jeffries in October 2000. The ordeal of the young girl from Manchester, England, began more than two years earlier. First she cried for two weeks, then came the hallucinations and continuous screaming. As the disease progressed, the pain in her legs worsened until she couldn't walk. Bedridden, her brain wasting away, she was reduced to communicating through moans and grunts." FDA Magazine 

(News: FLORIDA The first American died of Mad-Cow on June 20, 2004 in Meridian Florida. Some believe she contracted it by eating beef in England.)

Mad Cow Disease is only one of a deadly family of diseases called Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy or TSEs (seemingly caused by Prions). TSEs are arguably more deadly than cancer, AIDs or biological or chemical weapons. 

TSEs are 100% percent fatal to humans, are undetectable, untreatable, incurable, cannot be killed by cooking or even by burning and can live in your body for 40 years before acting. TSEs have jumped from animals to humans (cows to children, deer to hunters) and killed both. Thirty five (35%) percent of American beef could harbor Mad-cow disease. Cows born in the United States and Canada have died from this disease. Milk products might carry it as well. Thousands of Americans may have already died from this disease.

While claiming our beef is safe, the U.S. --



TSEs are 100 percent fatal, they are incurable and there is no treatment. A Gilroy man died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in 2004.


TSEs are NOT killed by cooking or even by flame burning. TSEs are not adequately destroyed by canning, freezing, usable doses of radiation, digestive enzymes, or stomach acid. Burning infected animals as was done in England may spread the infectious disease. 


  • Living humans or animals cannot be tested for TSEs.  

TSEs are too tiny to be detected by most powerful microscopes (Scanning Electron Microscopes) - let alone typical low powered microscopes available at most health laboratories. The only reliable test for a TSE is to examine brain tissue after death. 

As of June 2002 one detection technique has been developed that works only on white-tailed deer. It does not work on a species as closely related as Elk. 


TSEs have been found in Humans (called New Variant CJD - Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD), and Kuru), in Cows (Mad-Cow disease or BSE), in Sheep and Goats (Scrapie), in Deer, Elk, Mules (Chronic Wasting Disease), Mink and even Cats (feline spongiform encephalopathy). 


TSEs are contagious to humans from animal products we eat.

Cattle - For ten years England's top health officials denied the potential that humans could catch the disease from cows - until after more than a dozen people had died (as of 2003 some 143 Britons have died from the disease. The British government tried to hide the human deaths from this disease from the public for several years until the media exposed the deadliness of the problem. 

"In 1997, scientists at the Institute for Animal Health in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the Imperial College School of Medicine in London presented studies that strongly pointed to the agent that causes BSE as the most likely cause of human nvCJD. The UK government concluded that victims of nvCJD most likely acquired the disease by consuming food that had been made from cattle infected with BSE." 

Deer and Elk (Venison) - There is no dispute that Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is contagious to humans. CWD has been found in 14 states including California. The World Health Organization states no part of a deer or elk with evidence of CWD should be eaten by people or other animals. 

"To be perfectly honest, I'm more worried about chronic wasting disease as a potential public health problem than mad cow," said Johnson. European scientists "shake their heads and say, 'Why aren't you Americans working on this, you're sitting on a powder keg.'" said Dr. Richard T. Johnson of Johns Hopkins University, who led a thorough review of TSE research for the Institute of Medicine.(AP Jan 6, 2004) 

"Scrapie infected sheep and goats are currently present in California." (Animal Health and Food Safety Services, May 2002)


TSEs are known to have jumped from cows to humans and killed at least 161 people in England alone - including a 14 year old girl. There are 6 cases reported in France and one each in Italy and Ireland. 

Because of TSE's undetectability some health experts believe tens of thousands of people could have already been killed by this undetectable infectious disease. "Several autopsy studies suggest that 3 to 13 percent of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's or dementia actually suffered from [the human version of Mad-Cow disease]." (


The primary ways you can get infected with TSEs are if you -- 

  • Eat infected meat or cheese (especially hot dogs, t-bone steaks or hamburger).  
  • Get a blood transfusion or organ transplant from someone who has the disease.  
  • Have surgical instruments used on you that were used on a person infected with a TSE.  



  • TSEs have lain dormant in a human body as long as 56 years before they caused rapid death.  


TSEs are known to spread --

  • By cannibalism. Cannibalism can occur when sick cows are "rendered" (ground up) and put in feed which cattle then eat. When other species (humans, cows, sheep, cats) eat infected animal meat. Sick cattle are often ground up and put in animal food. The U.S. does not prohibit this.  
  • By direct contact. TSEs may also spread by direct contact with meat, saliva, urine and feces and contaminated soil. (Virtually everyone is silent on the danger from milk and milk products). When cattle are cut up in slaughterhouses using chainsaws, the infection can be spread from the spinal cord (or brain) to many other parts of the cow meat. USDA inspections of meat processing plants in 2002 found that, due to current killing and mechanical meat extraction practices in U.S. slaughterhouses, 35 percent of beef is contaminated with nervous system tissue.  
  • Genetically - some TSEs appear inherited.  
  • The disease has also appeared in wild and captive populations of deer in the U.S. that appear unrelated to cannibalism. No one has any theory how this occurs.  


  • The only known way to reduce the spread of this infectious disease spreads is to stop cannibalism. Its spread has been successfully reversed in humans (New Guinea) and in cattle by halting cannibalism (eating one's own species).  


The current spokeswoman for the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Alisa Harrison, was formerly Director of Public Relations for National Cattlemen's Beef Association where she fought government food safety efforts. The USDA chief of staff, Dale Moore, was previously chief lobbyist for the Cattlemen's Association. 

(SF Chronicle Front Page Jan 3, 2004. Article by Sabin Russel and Nanette Asimov, Copyright 2004 SF Chronicle)



In October 2003, FDA records revealed how more than 300 U.S. companies have violated "Mad Cow" regulations.

Which is more important to you - protecting Americans from deadly meat or saving cattle farmers a tiny increase in profits by not forcing them to test every slaughtered cow (as Japan does)? 


The British government and its experts knew of the Mad Cow threat for several years before the 14-year-old Zoe Jeffries appeared on television exposing the governmental cover-up. 

  • Japan tests every cow for Mad-cow disease.   
  • The U.S. only tests 1 out of every 1,800 cows (claiming Japan is "overtesting"). The U.S. only spends about a penny per American per year testing for Mad-cow.   It would only cost a few pennies per pound to test all cows.  
  • Even now in January 2004, after Mad-Cow has been found in U.S. cattle the FDA still refuses to test every cow (some 35 million per year); the FDA even refuses to test all known sick cows called "Downers" (195, 000 / year).  

Is the U.S. government hiding any American deaths due to Mad-cow? 


Q. How do I protect myself? 

  1. Do not --
  1. Food: Do NOT eat any food products derived in any part from cows (especially hamburger and hot dogs), sheep, goats, deer, elk, mules, mink, or cats - most particularly do not eat their meat. Cheese may be dangerous to eat as well.
  2. Hospital: Do NOT accept a blood transfusion or an organ transplant unless it has been tested for TSEs.
  3. Hospital Infected Instruments: Do NOT - If you will undergo surgery ask if the hospital has conducted any surgery on people with any kind of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. If so - find another hospital.

DO - Tell every government official you can that you are not eating any food from those animals and refusing untested blood transfusions until genuine safeguards will protect you.

Q. Can you get Mad-cow disease from range fed cattle? 

A. Yes -- if the cattle were ever -- 

  1. Weaned using blood products (plasma) from an infected cow when they were calves, or
  2. Fed any "rendered" (ground up) cow, sheep, goat, mink or deer parts.


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This Page Last Updated June 13, 2005