Think Twice About Eating Squirrel Brains

Doctors in Kentucky have issued a warning that people should not eat squirrel brains, a regional delicacy, because squirrels may carry a variant of mad cow disease that can be transmitted to humans and is fatal.

Although no squirrels have been tested for mad squirrel disease, there is reason to believe that they could be infected, said Dr. Joseph Berger, chairman of the neurology department at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. Elk, deer, mink, rodents and other wild animals are known to develop variants of mad cow disease that collectively are called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.

In the last four years, 11 cases of a human form of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, have been diagnosed in rural western Kentucky, said Dr. Erick Weisman, clinical director of the Neurobehavioral Institute in Hartford, Ky., where the patients were treated.


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CWD Epidemic Study To Be Funded Through New Legislation

Colorado's deer and elk populations have been under serious threat from a contagious, fatal neurological disease known as Chronic Wasting Disease for decades. However, the epidemic has hit a critical point, as it is estimated that half of the state's deer population and one-third of the elk population is infected with the 100 percent fatal disease. The disease is also spreading in deer, elk, moose, reindeer and other cervid populations in 24 other states and four Canadian provinces.

To finally make some headway in controlling the spread, Sen. Michael Bennet has joined Sen. John Barasso, R-WY, and Sen. Doug Jones, D-AL, to introduce a bipartisan bill authorizing deep study of the disease to find ways to control its spread and give state and local officials the information they need to combat it.

The disease has been studied by Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials since it first appeared in captive mule deer populations in research facilities near Fort Collins. The "prion disease" is part of the same class of diseases that include Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, more commonly known as "Mad Cow Disease."

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We May Have Been Wrong About Alzheimer's

We May Have Been Wrong About What Kills Brain Cells in Alzheimer's Disease

It's not what we thought.



The biological mechanisms that give rise to the cognitive decline of Alzheimer's disease could be due for a major rethink, according to new research.

It's long been thought that the neurodegeneration of Alzheimer's is caused by beta-amyloid plaques – sticky congregations of a protein called amyloid precursor protein (APP), which break down into fragments and clump together into misfolded, toxic aggregates in the brain, impeding neural communication.


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CWD Gets Congressional Attention In Louisiana

It’s an illness that some say is causing a serious threat to the Louisiana deer population. The concern has already led to a feeding ban enacted from January through June of this year, in northeast Louisiana. The ban was in order to minimize the risk of Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, spreading into the state.

Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy, or TSE, is most known for one of it's other names, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or Mad Cow Disease. It's referred to as BSE when it presents in cattle and sheep, and called Chronic Wasting Disease in deer and elk.

The disease is also transmittable to humans, where it is known as Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

TSE is still a relativity new disease, meaning there's not successful cure or treatment. The disease still carries the term "hypothesis" around what the disease actually does. The prevailing theory is that TSE causes prion proteins in the brain to slow until the stop, then they become toxic, and begin eating away at the brain tissue. Causing the brain to lose tissue in small hole, causing scans of the brain to appear to be sponge-like.


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A Vaccine for CWD?

Will a vaccine for chronic wasting disease (CWD) be here before we know it? Frank Bastion, an animal scientist at the Louisiana State University (LSU) AgCenter, has discovered a major breakthrough in the continuing saga of CWD, mad cow disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, according to an LSU press release.

Bastian, a neuropathologist, has created a way to grow the bacteria that causes these fatal diseases in his lab, which enables the possibility of developing tests and vaccines in the near future.


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