Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and other infections transmitted through food of animal origin PART 1
In continental Europe and England, the most common form of prion affection is the disease Creutzfeldt-Jakob. It has been found that the diseases related to prions can be also transmitted from human to human. This was discovered from a research carried on a population in New Guinea, who before practiced cannibalism. To honor the deceased, the children ate the brains of parents and many of them contracted a disease similar to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease called kuru, which in indigenous language means “trembling”. Sometimes for the development of the disease were passing decades up to 30 years.
Before the creation of the synthetic growth hormone, people deficient in this hormone were treated with epiphysis gland, taken from human cadavers. There are reports showing that Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease was transmitted this way. But other tissues spread the disease too, for example cornea, or some medical instruments, including the electrodes used to record the brain waves.
Typically, the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is an affection of aging. However, in England, the average age of the deceased was of 28 years, which was quite unusual. The disease duration was also longer than the usual forms of Creutztfeldt-Jakob disease. All of this made the British scientists to believe that this special clinical form derived from the bovine spongiform encephalopathy, specifically, that was issued by eating meat infected with bovine encephalopathy agent.
Symptoms of these patients were:
- sleep and diet disorders;
- difficulty in concentrating, slow judgment, loss of memory;
- changes in behavior, loss of vision, incoordination, incontinence;
- stiffness and muscle spasms, seizures;
- inability to eat, to dress, to use the toilet by itself, followed by death.
To eradicate the disease, it was proposed the slaughter of all animals infected with prions. Thus, it would prevent the humans contamination. But things are not so simple. Unfortunately there is no reliable way to determine if an animal contracted the disease if doesn’t have any symptoms yet. The time incubation is long.
A similar situation is in humans in the case of infection with the humans immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS. From the beginning of infection and to the manifestation of the disease may take 10 or even more years. Diseases with a long incubation period are particularly dangerous because a person or animal can transmit the infectious agent without manifesting any signs of illness. Thousands of men and women, apparently in good health, have transmitted the human immunodeficiency virus, before developing any sign or any symptoms of AIDS. The same can happen in bovine spongiform encephalopathy. In horned cattle, the incubation time is between 2 and 8 years. At the moment, at least in EU countries, it is required that, after slaughter, to be conducted a test to show whether the animal was infected or not.
Research conducted at the Pittsburgh University, USA, on some patients, who are believed to have died from Alzheimer’s disease have showed that in reality, some of them suffered from prion encephalopathy.
Until August 2002, the health authorities in the USA and Canada were happy that the cattle spongiform encephalitis, as the variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, has made no victim on the north american continent. But the satisfaction did not last long. Meanwhile, in Canada, occurred the first death with this affection, and the United States a woman of 33 years is still suspected of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Through the 1980s and early 1990s, both persons lived in England and consumed, without knowing, meat products from cattle suffering of spongiform encephalopathies.
How many victims will follow?