Alzheimer’s Disease Is Contagious

Caregivers In Harm’s Way

Approximately 50 million people around the world already have Alzheimer’s disease and the numbers are rising rapidly. Since the disease barely existed a century ago, Alzheimer’s and some related diseases fit the definition of a global epidemic. A new book by Gary R. Chandler explains why some, if not all, forms of Alzheimer’s disease are contagious.

Alzheimer’s deaths in the U.S. alone increased 68 percent between 2000 and 2010. During that same time, deaths from other major diseases, including heart disease and cancer, decreased significantly. Most developed countries are making progress on all health fronts, except for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Alzheimer's disease cause

“In my opinion, Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders such as Mad Cow disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and Chronic Wasting disease all are being grossly mismanaged around the world,” Chandler said. “The outbreaks all started about the same time. All are deadly. None are curable. All are caused by deadly proteins. The correlations speak volumes.”

Alzheimer’s: A Survivor’s Guide explains that some, if not all, forms of dementia are contagious. This book explores Alzheimer’s as part of a protein epidemic. It makes several critical points and asks some challenging questions about a form of killer protein called a prion (pronounced PREE-on).

Deadly prions are contagious and unstoppable. They are definitely behind some forms of neurodegenerative disorders in mammals, including humans. A Nobel-Prize-winning scientist claims that Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases all are prion diseases. In addition, prions are causing a deadly epidemic among deer, elk and moose in North America called Chronic Wasting disease (CWD).

prion disease and transmissible spongiform encephalopathy

Dr. Stanley Prusiner, an American neuroscientist from the University of California at San Francisco, earned a Nobel Prize in 1997 for discovering and characterizing deadly prions and prion disease. He claims that all TSEs are caused by prions. President Obama awarded Prusiner the National Medal of Science in 2010 to recognize the importance of his research. According to Prusiner, TSEs all are on the same disease spectrum, which is more accurately described as prion (PREE-on) disease. CJD is at the extreme end of the spectrum.

Prions are unstoppable and the pathogen spreads through the bodily fluids and cell tissue of its victims. Prions shed from humans are the most deadly mutation. Prions shed from human victims demand more respect than radiation. Infected surgical instruments, for example, are impossible to sterilize and hospitals throw them away.Prions are in the blood, saliva, urine, feces, mucus, and bodily tissue of its victims. Many factors are contributing to the epidemic. Prions are now the X factor. Industry and government are not accounting for prions or regulating them. They are ignoring these deadly proteins completely, which violates the United States’Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002. Other nations also are ignoring laws developed to protect food, air and water.

“There is now real evidence of the potential transmissibility of Alzheimer’s,” says Thomas Wiesniewski M.D. a prion and Alzheimer’s researcher at New York University School of Medicine.

A new study published in the journal Nature renews concern about the transmissibility of Alzheimer’s disease between people via saliva, mucus and other bodily fluids (drinking glass, a sneeze, etc.). A second study by the same scientist in early 2016 adds to the stack of evidence. A contaminated home, hospital and nursing home, for example, is essentially impossible to sterilize once contaminated with prions from a victim of the disease.

CWD, like Alzheimer’s, is a neurodegenerative disorder that consumes the brain. Thousands of animals have died and are still dying of the disease, while spreading the infection before and after death.

Since we have a global prion epidemic among people and regional ones among wildlife, it stands to reason that livestock also are impacted. Unfortunately, we don’t comprehensively test our food supply for prions, so we don’t know to what extent prion disease is, or isn’t, in global herds that supply meat, dairy, and other products. As we discuss later, these deadly proteins have likely made it into our water supplies, too.

sewage sludge land application

We usually associate the word protein with muscle growth and cell generation. Ironically, some proteins can reverse roles and kill brain cells. These renegade proteins might cause damage to the nervous system and the entire body as well. We just don’t know enough about prions to take any chances. Based on what we do know, any risk is unacceptable.

These corrupt proteins might even play a role in autism. A study in Canada is underway. We might even find that some proteins play roles in cancer development. The prion protein, in particular, behaves somewhat like cancer cells—they both corrupt their neighbors. They both spread and kill. A key difference is that prions keep going and going. They can survive outside of a body in a very harsh environment. They can lurk in soil or on a feed trough forever—waiting for their next victim. If we manage these protein predators based on what we do and don’t know, we can start managing the pathways and overall health risks to humans, livestock and wildlife.

Protein science is a fresh arena and we still have many more questions than answers. However, we know enough to connect some dots around proteins and the various threats that they pose. Ironically, most of these protein-based diseases exploded in the late 1900s. Have we created “Pandora’s Lunchbox” with our foolish food production and sewage disposal practices?

sewage sludge on land and disease

“For legal reasons, I must say that the perspective and comments conveyed in this book are my opinions,” Chandler said. “Hopefully, these points will provide food for thought and impetus for change.”

As Chandler sees it:

  1. Alzheimer’s is another form of deadly prion disease;
  2. Alzheimer’s and other prion diseases are transmissible and unstoppable;
  3. There is a global epidemic of prion disease—even autism could be caused by the protein predator;
  4. Industry and government are mismanaging Alzheimer’s and other prion disease pathways; and
  5. Global policy and production changes are critical. The sooner that changes are made the better.

For the past century, most people assumed that Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia were a common part of aging—for those who lived long enough. Research proves that age is only part of the equation.

Dementia also is caused by genetics, diet and even brain injuries, but it also is a transmissible disease. Who is most at risk? What can we do to lower our risk? What do caregivers need to know to avoid a deadly infection?

Some forms of dementia are contagious. People unknowingly contract prion disease in restaurants, hospitals, dental offices, via blood transfusions, cosmetics, etc.

As the following chart illustrates, not all countries are experiencing the same prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease. The North Atlantic countries of Finland, Iceland and Sweden have some of the highest rates of dementia in the world. Why?

Why is Finland’s dementia rate 39 percent higher than runner-up Iceland’s? If dementia is a random or sporadic condition, there should be little or no variance in the incidence from country to country. In reality, the differences and coincidences are astounding.

The United States and other developed countries also lead the list. The undeveloped countries across Asia, Africa and South America have the lowest incidence. What causes these regional variations? Could it be an unhealthy or contaminated diet in these countries? Could it be contaminated drinking water? Or is it another source of regional environmental contamination?

Country                    Alzheimer’s/Dementia (per 100K)

Finland                  34.9

Iceland                  25.1

United States       24.8

Sweden                 21.5

Netherlands        21.4

Switzerland        20.0

Cuba                    19.6

Chile                    19.6

Andorra              19.4

Spain                  18.7

Norway              18.6

Uruguay            17.5

Denmark           17.4

United Kingdom     17.1

France               16.6

Canada             16.0

Australia          15.3

New Zealand  15.2

Belgium           14.6

Pakistan          14.3

Bhutan            13.4

Malta              13.0

South Korea  12.0

Ireland            11.8

Hungary         11.5

Alzheimer's disease prevention

For some reason, women contract Alzheimer’s disease at a higher rate than men. White and black women have the highest rates. Hispanic men and women seem to have the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s. Why?  As you will see later, we know many of the ways that Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (the deadliest form of dementia) can spread. We should treat all forms of dementia the same and tighten safeguards on all.

For more information, please visit http://alzheimerdisease.tv/alzheimers-disease-risk-by-country/

public affairs and public relations

Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic wasting disease and the prion disease epidemic is an area of special expertise. Please contact Gary Chandler to join our coalition for reform gary@crossbow1.com.

About Gary Chandler

Public affairs and sustainability consultant. Founder of Crossbow Communications. Follow him on Twitter @Gary_Chandler
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