Mad Cow Not Scaring Low-Carb Dieters

By: Paul Joseph
By: Paul Joseph

Exercising and eating a low amount of carbohydrates is the diet plan for those on the Atkins type low-carb diet. A diet which can please meat lovers. "I just like meat," says Joe Yount. "I'm gonna keep eating it."

For some locals who include meat in their low-carb diet, news of the mad cow disease is not changing their diet menu. "If there was a problem with meat in this area and with distribution, I probably would think more serious about quitting low-carb," says Bethany Ellis.

Health experts warn to stay away from meat cuts from the brain, spinal cord, and small intestine that could transmit the disease. "If it was like 100 cows then it'd be kinda scary," says Brandi Ingram. "But now, it doesn't really worry me."

Even before the mad cow scare, Mandy Jenkins was one weight-watcher who didn't even have meat in her low-carb diet. "You just watch everything and lower your intake of everything." Jenkins does say even if she wanted to eat meat as part of her diet plan she wouldn't because, "The price of meat is high because of mad cow."

Health experts say beef cuts like steak, roast and chops are fine to eat. Organs like the tongue and livers are okay too.

Meat will remain in the low-carb diet of some locals unless more cows come home sick.

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Mad Cow Disease

What is Mad Cow Disease?

  • Mad cow, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is a disease found in cattle. Found in humans it is named Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (VCJD).

What is Mad cow (BSE)?

  • Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is a progressive neurological disorder.

  • The disease can be transmitted between cattle when infected meat is digested by the animal.

  • The disease has now cure in cattle.

Transmission to Humans

  • Although the risk is very small, humans can contract the disease, which is known as VCJD.

  • The disease is fatal and causes brain disorders with unusually long incubation periods measured in years.

  • From 1995 through June 2002, a total of 124 human cases of VCJD were reported in the United Kingdom, 6 cases in France, and 1 case each in Ireland, Italy, and the United States. The case-patients from Ireland and the United States had each lived in the United Kingdom for more than 5 years.

  • Milk and milk products from cows are not believed to pose any risk for transmitting the BSE agent.

  • Staying alert to U.S. government warnings during times of outbreak is very important. The U.S. government will say if avoiding beef all together is necessary.

  • Selecting beef, such as solid pieces of muscle meat (versus calf brains or beef products such as burgers and sausages), which might have a reduced opportunity for contamination with tissues that may harbor the BSE agent.

Symptoms of VCJD

  • The duration of CJD from the onset of symptoms to the inevitable death is usually one year; however, shorter duration periods of several months are common, and longer duration periods of two or more years have been noted.

  • The initial stage of the disease can be subtle with ambiguous symptoms of:
    • Insomnia
    • Depression
    • Confusion
    • Personality and behavioral changes
    • Strange physical sensations
    • Problems with memory, coordination and sight

  • As the disease advances, the patient experiences a rapidly, progressive dementia and in most cases, involuntary and irregular jerking movements known as myoclonus.

  • Problems with language, sight, muscular weakness, and coordination worsen. The patient may appear startled and become rigid.

  • In the final stage of the disease, the patient loses all mental and physical functions. The patient may lapse into a coma and usually dies from an infection like pneumonia precipitated by the bedridden, unconscious state.

Sources: http://www.cdc.gov/od/oc/media/fact/cjd.htm (The Center for Disease Control Web site) and http://cjdfoundation.org/CJDInfo.html (The Creutxfeldt-Jakob Disease Foundation Web site)


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