Research scientist Colm Kelleher discussed his findings on Mad Cow Disease which is called CJD in humans. 5% to 10% of America's 4-5 million Alzheimer's patients may actually have CJD, but so far pathologists have been unwilling to do the autopsies that would bear out these statistics, he said.
Kelleher backs studies that suggest the disease is spread via cattle feed that contains rendered animal parts and he advocates a return to grass and grain feeding. He also suggested that the US needs a comprehensive testing program to get a baseline on how many cattle may be infected.
CJD is brought on prions, self-reproducing proteins that enter the brain. Early symptoms include forgetfulness, personality change and sleep disorders, but they may take 10-30 years to first appear after infection. However, once the symptoms begin, a patient may only have 3-18 months to live, as their brain deteriorates rapidly, he noted.
Kelleher, formerly the chief research scientist at NIDS, said the now dormant program which studied unusual phenomena, may eventually be reactivated if an important case comes their way.