Bacteria caused BSE

1 November 1999

‘Bacteria caused BSE’

BACTERIA found in contaminated water, sewage and soil, may have caused BSE, claims a group of British scientists.

The leader of the team also believes that victims of the human form of BSE could have contracted the disease from the general environment, not from eating beef.

Many researchers had thought a rogue prion protein was to blame for BSE.

Research led by Professor Alan Ebringer, Professor of Immunology at Kings College, London, showed auto-antibodies to Aeinetobacter calcoaceticus were found in high numbers of cattle which died from BSE.

Little or no sign of the antibodies were found in BSE-free cattle.

Professor Ebringer, told The Daily Telegraphhe believed the bacterium started the BSE epidemic.

He thinks this bacterium caused fatal illnesses after being contracted by victims from the general environment, not through eating beef.

He said this would account for the fact that some of the 47 people who have died from the new form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of BSE, were vegetarians.

Prof Ebringer said if his research was correct both British and French beef was safe.

The work by the team from Kings College, London, the Middlesex Hospital and Wickham Laboratories are to be published in the American journal Infection and Immunity.

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