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The Biogune research centre has shown that rabbits, which were previously thought to be resistant to prion diseases, can also develop such infections. However, the authors of this study consider that an epidemic of mad rabbits similar to that seen in cows in the 1990s is highly unlikely.
...although rabbits are unusually resistant to prion diseases in comparison with other mammals, they can nevertheless still become infected.
In light of this new discovery, Dr. Castilla's group has decided to study whether prions can jump even higher barriers and infect birds or fishes, for example. In this sense, the Biogune team aims to untangle the molecular mechanisms that explain the different susceptibilities shown by species towards prions in order to mimic nature and develop new therapeutic strategies to combat transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.
This study opens up the debate regarding the suitability of feeding various species with animal proteins that may be contaminated with prions, even those that for many years have been considered to be resistant. “The ability of prions to adapt during their passage through various species suggests that any mammal is susceptible to infection and that the only safe means of preventing this is to avoid using feed that has come into contact with animal proteins”, concludes Dr. Castilla.
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.
2005: Mad Cow-causing Prions Found in All Organs
A new study confirms that prions, the infectious proteins that cause Mad Cow disease are found throughout the body. Organs previously thought to be free of prions are now known to contain them, as well as muscle, skin and blood vessels. Yale and University of Zurich researchers report that super-imposed infections play a role in causing prions to spread through the body. This study and other current research appears to validate scientists previous claims that "subclinical" prion infections are common, and may underlie epidemic rising rates of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and various chronic disabilities.
Mad Cow disease is terrifying. ....At least mad rabbit isn't expected to blow up worldwide. Scary non the less.
I am sure I remember that the cause of Mad Cow disease was Manganese deficiency