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Scientist Warns that Farmed Fish Could be a Source of Mad Cow Disease

In a paper that shows just how strange our modern world has become, Robert P. Friedland, neurologist from the University of Louisville, warns that farmed fish could be at risk of Creutzfeldt Jakob disease, or mad cow disease.

Currently, farmed fish are fed cow byproducts-a food source they would never find natural environment (unless society started dumping cow carcasses in oceans or lakes).

Friedland and co-authors raise the issue in the Journal of Alzhemier's Disease and call on food regulators to ban feeding cow bone or meat to farmed fish until it can be determined if the practice of feeding fish cow-parts is safe.

"We have not proven that it's possible for fish to transmit the disease to humans. Still, we believe that out of reasonable caution for public health, the practice of feeding rendered cows to fish should be prohibited," Friedland said. "Fish do very well in the seas without eating cows."

Mad cow disease is a fatal disease that can be contracted by eating parts of a cow infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). After an outbreak in Britain due to infected beef, 163 people died.

"The fact that no cases of Creutzfeldt Jakob disease have been linked to eating farmed fish does not assure that feeding rendered cow parts to fish is safe," warns Friedland. "The incubation period of these diseases may last for decades, which makes the association between feeding practices and infection difficult. Enhanced safeguards need to be put in place to protect the public."

Along with cow, farmed fish are also fed significant amounts of antibiotics to keep them disease-and-parasite free. Farmed fish pose additional health hazards due to the possibility of mercury contamination.

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