Squirrel brains aren’t for everyone: New York state hunter, 61, dies from CJD

Mary Kekatos of the Daily Mail reports a New York man died after he developed a rare and fatal brain disorder from eating squirrel brains.

In a case report, researchers said the 61-year-old was brought to Rochester Regional Health in 2015 saying he was having trouble thinking, he was losing touch with reality and he couldn’t walk.

(Sounds like me, but I don’t eat squirrel brains; I got a whole other basket of dementia in my future).

Doctors discovered he developed a degenerative disease caused by the same infectious proteins that also result in the more infamous ‘mad cow disease’.

However, it wasn’t contaminated beef that caused this man’s death. His family told doctors he enjoyed hunting and had recently eaten squirrel brains – although it’s unclear if he ate the whole brain or squirrel meat contaminated with parts of the brain. 

The findings of the report were presented on October 4 at IDWeek, an annual meeting of infectious diseases professionals, reported Live Science.

Lead author Dr Tara Chen, a medical resident at Rochester Regional Health, told the website she discovered the case while doing a report on cases of the disease seen at her hospital during a five-year period

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare, degenerative brain disorder that is caused by coming into contact with tissue that has been infected, such as eating contaminated meat.

Amy says squirrel tastes like chicken — if you add ketchup.

Fortunately, she wasn’t into the whole squirrel-brain culture thing.

CJD sucks: UK special forces legend who blew up Saddam’s communications network dies of CJD

A superfit, special forces legend from Gloucestershire who carried out a real-life “mission impossible” behind enemy lines has died after developing the human form of Mad Cow Disease.

Father-of-three Mark Phillips MBE was just 56 when he died earlier on August 12 and was well-know figure in military circles for his brave exploits in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Known as Lt. Colonel Mark ‘Foggy’ Phillips of the Special Boat Squadron, he is said to have being diagnosed with Sporadic-Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in June. It is so rare that only one in one million people develop it.

It is believed that Mr Phillips attended Balcarras School in Cheltenham before embarking on an outstanding military career which saw him join the SBS in 1987 and become one of its fittest and most respected officers.

Commandant General of the Royal Marines, Major General Rob Magowan, led the tributes to the officer who is said to have carried out hundreds of forays behind enemy lines, including an audacious mission to blow up Saddam Hussein’s telecommunications cables buried under a sports arena near the centre of Baghdad.

Sources say diversion was created so Lt Col Phillips and his SBS team could fly in on Chinooks at low altitude to avoid the radar and then then plant hundreds of pounds of explosives.

An SBS source told the Daily Mail that many of those in the know did not expect them to make it back alive from the 1991 raid because it was the “It was the proverbial ‘mission impossible’.”

But it was so successful in bringing down Iraqi communications during the first Gulf War that a piece of cable recovered from the scene was later put on display at the Imperial War Museum.’

The military man returned to Iraq in 2003 with the SBS and in 2008 he was said to have joined a special UK-US Special Forces unit known as Task Force 42 which tracked Taliban commanders.

Major General Magowan said: “Foggy was an inspiration, both to me and across our Corps. Bright, physically strong, courageous, hugely visionary and immediately engaging, he had all the attributes of a Royal Marine.

“People were swept up by his energy and leadership. I first met him on an adjacent rowing machine and I must admit to feeling intimidated. As an organisation, we are considerably less rich with his passing.”

Although he kept out the public eye, he was also known as an athlete and the 1990s he won the 125-mile Devizes to Westminster canoe race, which has previously won by Paddy Ashdown and Ranolph Fiennes, four times in succession.

Organisers paid tribute to him on the event’s Facebook page and said: “His athletic feats are legend and amongst these achievements, he was a 4 times winner of the Devizes to Westminster canoe race.

“Lt Col Mark Phillips MBE, Royal Marines was a professional of the highest order – we will be hard put to meet his like again.”

According to his LinkedIn profile he left the military in 2013 and had his own security business.

A death notice in GloucestershireLive read: PHILLIPS M.B.E. Mark Sadly passed away on 12th August 2017 after a short illness. “Husband to Jacqui and father to Emily, George and Bethany. Son of Brian and Pat and brother to Stephen and Adrian. Funeral service will take place at Milton Abbey, Dorset on 25 August.”

Deer brains, other parts found at Pennsylvania restaurant

I’ve always referred to The Odds song, Eat My Brain, as the CJD song.

my.brain.hurtsEating brains is not a good idea.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission confiscated deer brains and other deer parts from a Lititz restaurant earlier this month, according to state inspectors.

The brains, heads, muscle meat and other parts were taken after New China House’s operator couldn’t provide documentation the game meat was from an approved source, according to a Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture inspection report. 

The game commission is investigating, according to PennLive.

A confidential tip led to the investigation, a commission spokesman told PennLive. Travis Lau said game animals for consumption must be farm-raised and game shot by hunters cannot be sold.

New China’s owner told PennLive that he doesn’t sell deer meat and that deer bones confiscated were for soup for him and his wife.

The deer parts violation was one of 18 violations documented on a Dec. 16 inspection, according to the agriculture department’s report. A follow-up inspection Dec. 17 documented 14 violations, including an unidentifiable pig organ, which the operator’s wife said was her lunch. It was discarded.

Scrapie from lambs could infect humans like ‘mad cow disease’, research suggests

Or not.

sheep-getyCreuzfeldt Jakob Disease (CJD), known more commonly as ‘mad cow disease’, caused a major scare in the 1990s. But now it’s lambs rather than cows that some are concerned about.

A question mark over the safety of lamb has been raised after scientists found that a deadly brain disease affecting sheep has the potential to infect humans.

The disease, named scrapie, is similar to variant CJD that previously spread from cows to humans through infected meat.

Researchers have now found evidence linking the infectious agent behind scrapie with sporadic CJD (sCJD), a fatal human disease thats cause has never been known.

The scientists stress they have no proof that eating mutton or lamb infected with scrapie can lead to sCJD in humans.

But tests on humanised laboratory mice show that potentially scrapie is capable of infecting humans. And the way the infection spreads in the brain is identical to that seen in cases of sCJD.

The scientists, led by Dr Olivier Andreoletti, from the National Veterinary School of Toulouse in France, wrote in the journal Nature Communications: “Our data on their own do not unequivocally establish a causative link between natural exposure to sheep scrapie and the subsequent appearance of sCJD in humans.

“However, our studies clearly point out the need to consider this possibility.”

Both scrapie and different forms of CJD are caused by rogue misshapen prion proteins.

Normal prions that come into contact with the defective versions are changed too and turn “bad”. In this way the infection spreads, inflicting terrible damage to the brain.

Squirrel melts for lunch – like tuna melts, but with squirrel

A friend sent along this year-old video of “Huntress” Heidi Wilson, a redneck Rachel Ray with a heavy dose of Martha Stewart-inspired soft lens on the camera.

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife describes squirrel as "good table fare," offering recipes for squirrel chowder, stew and barbecue.

In Aug., 1997, Joseph Berger, Erick Weisman and Beverly Weisman of the University of Kentucky reported in The Lancet, they may have found a link between the consumption of squirrel brains, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

The scientists reported on five patients, aged between 56 and 78, who had been diagnosed as having Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. All of them reported that they had eaten squirrel brains.

Weisman told the N.Y. Times  squirrels were a popular food in rural Kentucky, where people eat either the meat or the brains but generally not both.

Families tend to prefer one or the other depending on tradition. Those who eat only squirrel meat chop up the carcass and prepare it with vegetables in a stew called burgoo. Squirrels recently killed on the road are often thrown into the pot.

Families that eat brains follow only certain rituals.

"Someone comes by the house with just the head of a squirrel," said Weisman "and gives it to the matriarch of the family. She shaves the fur off the top of the head and fries the head whole. The skull is cracked open at the dinner table and the brains are sucked out."  It is a gift-giving ritual.

The second most popular way to prepare squirrel brains is to scramble them in white gravy, he said, or to scramble them with eggs. In each case, the walnut-sized skull is cracked open and the brains are scooped out for cooking.

These practices are not related to poverty, Berger was cited as saying. People of all income levels eat squirrel brains in rural Kentucky and in other parts of the South.

Amy says squirrel tastes like chicken — if you add ketchup.