Vegan Health ArticlesParatuberculosis and Crohn's Disease: Got Milk? Milk and Pus
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From Michael Greger, MD
Updated January 2001

Professor Hermon-Taylor, internationally known expert on Crohn's and MAP genetics, who has researched the illness for 20 years, said: "If there were no MAP I believe there would be almost no Crohn's disease. It is certainly responsible for between 60 per cent and 90 per cent of all cases and I would think that it is more likely to be 90 per cent."[110] Obviously, everyone who's exposed to paraTB doesn't come down with Crohn's disease, as is the case in virtually all infectious diseases. As mentioned previously, just because one comes in contact with a pathogen does not necessarily mean one comes down with the illness. Genetic and environmental factors facilitate establishment, persistence, and production of disease.[45]

H. pylori (the bacterium proven to cause ulcers), for example, is one of the most common of all bacterial infections90 -- a third of Americans have H. pylori in their stomachs.99 A third of us, however, don't have ulcers;[64] some people are susceptible and some are not. Similarly, only about one in three hundred people exposed to tuberculosis actually come down with active disease.[19] Until we know why some and not others fall ill, all one can do is to try to minimize exposure to the pathogen. For example, people should not let those with tuberculosis cough in their face.

Drinking milk from cows infected with Johne's disease is how people are exposed to paratuberculosis. Based on DNA fingerprinting techniques, there are two strains of MAP: one that affects cattle, and one that affects goats and sheep. All human isolates so far have been of bovine origin,[24] implicating milk.[11] Milk is the "logical" focus of exposure[24] because cows with Johne's disease secrete paraTB abundantly in their milk.[158] Even sub-clinical cows -- those that are infected but appear perfectly normal -- shed paraTB bacteria into their milk.[24] Although these bacteria are found free-floating in milk, their transmission may be facilitated by their presence inside pus cells.[158] This is a particular problem in the United States, as we have the highest permitted upper limit of milk pus cell concentration in the world -- almost twice the international standard of allowable pus cells (750,000/ml vs. 400,000/ml)[168] By US federal law, Grade A milk is allowed to have over a drop of pus per glass of milk.[6] These pus cells may facilitate the transmission of paraTB.[158]

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We began this archive as a means of assisting our visitors in answering many of their health and diet questions, and in encouraging them to take a pro-active part in their own health. We believe the articles and information contained herein are true, but are not presenting them as advice. We, personally, have found that a whole food vegan diet has helped our own health, and simply wish to share with others the things we have found. Each of us must make our own decisions, for it's our own body. If you have a health problem, see your own physician.