News From the Secretary

News From the Secretary By Larry Gabriel Where shall we hide?

Does anyone else get tired of the constant national media barrage of things to fear? You know the things: wars, old age, sharks, kidnappers, global warming, asteroids, mad cows, etc.

Luckily I only have to deal with questions about the smaller ones like BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) more commonly called mad cow disease.

We finally found a USA-born (prior to the 1997 feed ban) cow with BSE after testing 338,309 cattle since June, 2004. It made headlines all over the world. Taiwan immediately re-closed its borders to beef after opening them for the first times since a Canadian BSE cow was found here in 2003.

It is frustrating to watch the news media wipe out a year of work with a one-minute blurb. They leave out little facts like: All high-risk

cattle and specified risk materials are banned from the human food chain. Those are key facts.

The BSE risk to humans is minuscule. BSE in cattle is suspected of causing a similar disease (variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or vCJD) in people who ate infected meat containing spinal or brain tissue.

World-wide there are 153 people cases. Most of them were found in Great Britain after they began vCJD surveillance 15 years ago.

Great Britain had 180,000 confirmed cases of BSE. We have had two. The difference between two cows and 180,000 is significant. Even with the massive contamination in their food supply (homogenates of cow brain were

used commonly to bind ground beef in burgers) relatively few people died from it.

Don�t get me wrong. Every one of these deaths is a tragedy, but life is filled with tragedy. About 13,000,000 people die each year from communicable diseases and another 62,000 in disasters. On an average day about 24,000 people starve and another 1,400 are murdered. Someone commits suicide about every 40 seconds.

The leading dangers to your life in the United States are in the order of greatest to least risk: heart disease, cancer, stroke, accident, motor vehicles, suicide, falling down, assault, fires, nature, electrocution, drowning, air travel, food.

As near as I can tell about one in a million people develop vCJD and fewer than that develop the variant.

Your chances of being killed by an asteroid or tsunami are greater than your chances of getting vCJD. As a matter of fact, if you are reading this you survived a risk that is probably twice as dangerous. You survived fireworks on the Fourth of July.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Liberty has its prices (like having to listen to sensationalism) but it beats any other option.

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