Monday, November 15


Researchers in the current issue of Science say they may have found a new and different form of Mad Cow, a finding which is consistent with previous theories that BSE-linked CJD may be misdiagnosed as "sporadic" CJD. "The human version of mad cow disease may look different in different people, depending on their genetic make-up, experts reported on Thursday, raising the possibility the disease could be circulating undetected." And as always, Steve Mitchell is checking into that possibility, raising questions about a California man who died from "what tentatively was diagnosed as a rare brain disorder, but his brother said the patient's neurologist is concerned the man was infected with the human version of mad cow disease." While there's no corroborating quote from the neurologist, the brother straight-out says, "I'm concerned he got it from beef."

Similarly, there's been some interesting action in New York, where state officials currently are looking into a cluster of five cases of CJD. Turns out that New York recorded 23 cases of CJD in 2003 and 28 in 2001, which is about four and nine more, respectively, than would be expected based on the state's population size. "Although UPI had requested to see a breakdown of the cases by county, New York officials refused to release the information." And note that "The area where the southern New York cases occurred is just two counties away from a northern New Jersey area that saw five CJD cases within 15 months.

There is perhaps one silver lining in these stories of death and gloom: The son of one victim "noted that his dad was a 'huge beefeater' and that he can no longer bring himself to eat ground beef. 'Every time I look at ground beef, I want to throw up now,' he said." Well, at least you're looking at meat in a logical frame of mind.

UPDATE 11/16: VENEMAN RESIGNS AS USDA HEAD We'll see who replaces her, but I doubt it'll be more than a case of "Meet the new boss..."

UPDATE 11/18: Let's look back at that article from Tuesday: The lede is that her resignation "caught many in the farm community by surprise." Now why is that? "Veneman had campaigned tirelessly for President Bush in key farm states in the run-up to the recent election. At a teleconference with reporters last Tuesday, she sidestepped a question about her future, saying only that 'the president will be making decisions on personnel.' But in a letter to Bush just three days later, she declared that 'now is an appropriate time for me to move on to new opportunities.'" Yes, I guess it is.

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