Sunday, May 04, 2003

Johnes or Crohns disease

Mum was telling me on the phone about a man who told her that Crohn’s disease was caused by an infection from eating meat. We both remembered the “beasts” that were killed and supplied to Roger and I for our chest freezer after they had been hung out in a shed overnight and sawn up with the shed saws, cut and packed before the flies could get to them. I remember the tubs full of mince that we puddled through bagging the stuff into meal-sized lots. I even corned my own silverside back then in a poisonous brine solution. If there is some sort of disease in beef that can be passed on to human,s then I was a prime target along with the rest of the Frizzell family. Anyway, I jokingly said to Mum I will look for it on the Net using search terms Crohn’s and bovine…and we spent the rest of our phonecall trying to decide what the right term for sheep would be, if canine means dog, feline means cat, bovine is beef, swine is pig, etc. So later, I entered those search terms after first researching chicory and tapioca (I am going to make some bubble tea or pearl tea – the now commercial rage in Asia thanks to the tapioca pearls). I saw Johnes disease come up in the listing and the very first piece of information from the CSIRO stated:

Johne's disease and human safety
There is a human disease called Crohn's disease that resembles Johne's disease. Although their pathology is similar, there is no hard evidence that they are caused by the same bacterium.
There are many theories about what causes Crohn's disease, but none have been fully accepted……..
The Australian health department has reviewed the scientific findings and concluded that there is no substantial evidence for a link between Johne's disease and the development of Crohn's disease……..
Not detected in locally bred animals in WA, Qld or NT
M.paratuberculosis lives in the intestine, but survives in the outside environment for extended periods. The disease develops very slowly. Animals can be infected for many years before they show any disease signs, making detection extremely difficult.
Is there a cure for Johne's disease?
There is no cure - prevention is the best alternative. Although there is some evidence to show that an infected animal can be cured with expensive antibiotics, it would involve treatment for a long period of time - maybe up to a year or more, using multiple antibiotics and making it a time consuming and very expensive task
The following references were some listed in an Inquiry authorised by the Victorian Government ( and each paper mentions Crohn’s
Hermon-Taylor, J. (1999), 'The use of Antimycobacterial Drugs in the Treatment of Mycobacterium avum subsp. paratuberculosis Infections on Animals and in Crohne's Disease in Humans', Proceedings of the Sixth International Colloquium on Paratuberculosis, 14-18 February 1999, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 520-524.
Naser, S. A., Schwartz, D. S. and Shafran, I. (2000), 'Isolation of Mycobacterium avum subsp paratuberculosis from the Breast Mils of Crohn's Disease Patients', American Journal of Gastroentology, Vol. 95 (4), pp. 1094-1095.
Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare (2000), Possible Links Between Crohne's Disease and Paratuberculosis, Report to the Director-General Health and Consumer Protection, European Commission.
Selby, W. (1999), 'Pathogenesis and Therapeutic Aspects of Crohne's Disease', Proceedings of the Sixth International Colloquium on Paratuberculosis, 14-18 February, 1999, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 515-9.
The cattle council urges us to TELL OUR MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT for the sake of the Australian meat industry (it is not just cattle, deer, sheep, etc)

In February 1998, a paper was published in the British Medical Journal which documented the first proven case of M. paratuberculosis causing disease in a human being. The patient, a seven year old boy, developed a M. paratuberculosis infection in the lymph nodes of his neck. This was followed, after a five year incubation period, by an intestinal disease that was indistinguishable from Crohn's disease.

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