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Originally published January 27 2011

Warning: Scientists discover mad cow disease-causing prions infect through air

by S. L. Baker, features writer

(NaturalNews) Cancer and Alzheimer's disease are usually described as the two most dreaded health disorders. But there is probably no more ghastly way to suffer and inevitably die than to contract so-called mad cow disease or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Prions are known to cause mad cow disease, also termed bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), and Creutzfeldt-Jakob in humans. These infectious agents produce a progressive and always lethal break-down of brain cells; they literally turn brains into sponge-like mush.

It is well established that these nightmarish infections can be spread by surgical instruments contaminated by prions and, more rarely, through blood transfusions. Food made from BSE-infected cows can also induce the disease. But mainstream medicine has long insisted that prions can't cause disease in the way common flu or cold viruses do -- by traveling through the air and being inhaled into the body. In fact, the scientific community has long declared that airborne prions are no threat to health.

Turns out, they've made a deadly and dangerous mistake.

Swiss scientists at the University of Zurich, the University Hospital Zurich and the University of Tubingen have discovered and documented for the first time that inhaling prions can induce mad cow-type disease. What makes this especially alarming is that at the present time scientific laboratories, animal feed factories, slaughterhouses and other environments where prions could well be found do not have stringent measures in place to keep prions from floating around in the air -- and that means there's no protction for humans or animals breathing breathing potentially prion-laden air in these places.

The team of Swiss scientists, headed by Professor Adriano Aguzzi, placed both immunodeficient and totally healthy mice in special inhalation chambers and then exposed them to aerosols containing prions. The results? Inhaling prions induced disease with what the researchers called "frightening efficiency". Just a single minute of exposure to the prion containing aerosols was sufficient to infect 100% of the animals, Professor Aguzzi noted in a statement to the media. He added that the findings were entirely unexpected and appear to contradict the widely held view that airborne prions are innocuous.

The study, just published in the journal PLoS Pathogens, also found that the longer the exposure lasted, the shorter the time of incubation in the prion breathing mice and the sooner clinical signs of brain-destroying prion disease occurred. When inhaled, prions apparently transfer directly from the airways and rapidly colonize the brain.

The researchers concluded that their new findings suggest " may be advisable to consider the possibility of airborne prion transmission, and to create regulations aimed at minimizing the prion infection risks to humans and animals."

Editor's note: NaturalNews is opposed to the use of animals in medical experiments that expose them to harm. We present these findings in protest of the way in which they were acquired.

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