Mad Milk Disease?
The term ‘Mad Cow’ disease is almost a household name, but only a few people actually know what it means. Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, more commonly known as Mad Cow disease, infects cows and turns their brains into what resembles a sponge.
Creutzfeld-Jacob (CZ or CJD) is the human equivalent of BSE. Identified first in the 1920’s, it causes the gradual decline of mental ability.
All of the diseases mentioned are prion based diseases. Once inside the body, the prions which are self replicating protiens, grow and cause the brain to become spongy. Prions have been reported to be found in contaminated soil and water.
Because HIV was previously believed to be harmless to babies nursing on breastmilk, Prions at first were no threat to milk. When HIV was proven to be able to transmit itself through breast milk people started to worry. One death was blamed on CJD. A woman dying with CJD had shown signs of the disease in her colostrum (the type of breast milk made in the first few days after delivering a baby).
However In 1995, the British Spongiform Encepalopathy Advisory Committee dismissed claims that BSE can be passed in milk. The Committee published its reports in The Veterinary Record in June 1995. A team of British scientists form all over the UK worked on this. The team fed milk from cows dying from BSE to mice for 40 days, then observed the mice for about two years. To take their experiment to another level, they also injected milk from a BSE infected cow straight into the brains and the skin of mice. They thought that by doing this they would get positive results for infections. These mice were also watched by the scientists for two years.
The results turned out to be negative for both of the experiments. Dr. Haresh Narang, a critic of the British study of BSE, called the study ‘worthless’. He believes that the milk should have been fed to Mink. Mink can consume as much milk a an average human baby can. The Scientists argued by saying that the amount of milk given to the mice was equivalent to a human drinking a pint of milk a day from an infected cow for almost seven years.
To prove that milk did not contain any BSE, The same mice tested before once again subjected to testing. This time the mice were injected with other parts of organs from infected cows, like the brain and spinal fluid. The mice then developed the disease.