NANFA-- Prions

Jeffrey Fullerton (
Tue, 19 Dec 2000 00:09:44 -0500

> << Just a word on eating squirrel brains. In Kentucky, I think, this practice
> has been linked with a variant of Creutzfeld Jacob Disease, similar to mad
> cow disease.
> >>
> Come on Bob, I know us hillbillies are eccentric in our old age. Are you
> serious? That is scary.
> Moon

Another version is Kuru, discovered in tribes of New Guinea who
practiced ritual cannibalism of the deceased relatives. At first it was
assumed to be a hereditary disease because of its recurrence down
through family lines until a researcher found the causative agent which
is of a unique class of quasi-biological entities called prions.

Prions are even smaller than viruses and like viruses some scientists do
not consider them as life forms but more or less self- replicating
molecular entities perhaps a leftover form of pre-biotic matter or just
a rogue peice of molecular machinery that spun off living matter and
makes use of living matter to reproduce itself.

Whatever they are they are evidently hard to kill if killing them is
possible since they may not be alive in the sense of animate matter. I'm
not sure of all the facts about prions but the scare generated by mad
cow disease suggests that cooking does not inactivate these entities -
unless it's from people undercooking meat that is the source of
transmission to humans. Someone more knowledgable please set me strait.

I have yet to give up on meat, but I stopped using bone meal as
fertilizer when I learned that bone meal being recycled into cattle feed
in England may have been a contributing factor to the spread.
Something to think about.


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