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Deadly Feasts: Tracking the Secrets of a…
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Deadly Feasts: Tracking the Secrets of a Terrifying New Plague

by Richard Rhodes

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This is a fabulous, eye-opening book on the history, progression and modern uncertainty surrounding the TSEs (transmissible spongiform encephalopathies), which are most commonly recognized as "mad cow disease". The reader will not get bogged down in extreme medical or scientific terminology. Nor will they be subjected to extreme alarmist theory or a plea for everyone to turn vegan. A history of the controversial agent across and within species is a wonderful introduction to this potential crisis.

This book highlights yet another humbling part of nature. One that seems to be continually with us, all around us and has the potential to be dominating and unrelenting. ( )
  Sovranty | Apr 15, 2014 |
Deadly Feasts opens up with an absolutely riveting account of the kuru disease devastating the cannibal Fore in New Guinea. Turns out kuru is a prion based Spongiform Encephalopathy (SE) disease spread by cannibalism.

Author then proceeds to methodically show how kuru is functionally the same thing as Mad Cow, and SE diseases found in sheep, mink, pigs etc. And the spread is functionally the same: cannibalism. The meat industry in an effort to save costs feeds vegetarian animals ground up meat/brain materials from slaughtered animals not fit to sell to humans.

And the scary thing with these SE ‘s is they can bridge species boundaries very easily. Furthermore, even scarier is vegetarians could be at risk if an animal infected with a prion disease defecates on vegetables or fruits.

Author points out there really are only two solutions to this problem: stop eating meat or wipe out the existing herds and stop feeding vegetarian animals downed animals in order to save money.

Although it opens with a bang, the book does bog down in many places but is well worth a read. Author is clearly a lefty and throws in one gratuitous and completely unnecessary shot at the Newt Congress in the 90’s. But this can be overlooked given the overall excellent content of the book. Well worth the read (especially if you are still eating meat). ( )
  lindend | Sep 9, 2012 |
A bit on the alarmist side, but a good read with lots of great information on the inner workings of big-time science and the discovery of an all-new type of communicable disease. ( )
  ehines | Oct 18, 2010 |
Intresting connection between different species diseases.

Scary, but good read.

Super awesome- I hate reading and even I liked it!
  develynlibrary | Dec 17, 2008 |
Rhodes tracks the entire history of TSEs (transmissable spongiform encephalopathies) through the researchers who studied and solved many of their puzzles. The outcome is accessible science, a clever mystery, international muckraking, and a warning. Everyone now knows of the political decisions which helped the spread of AIDs, particularly the failure to protect the blood supply in America and France. It shouldn't be surprising then, to learn how footdragging contributed to cases of TSEs in America and Britain.
Perhaps the most upsetting news for readers isn't that the TSEs are easily spread and 100% fatal--it's knowing that all the medical breakthroughs won't save us if no one will act on the knowledge. ( )
  Kaethe | Jul 15, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684844257, Paperback)

The British epidemic of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or "mad cow" disease, is only one in a series of mysterious and often fatal afflictions that have baffled scientists for more than 40 years. Deadly Feasts is a compelling account of decades of research into a family of diseases ranging from kuru in primitive human tribes to scrapie in sheep. Richard Rhodes traces the attempts of scientists to understand these strange diseases, which are now known to be transmitted by ingesting the brain or nervous tissue of infected creatures, even though the pathogen itself is an enigma that seems to be neither bacterial nor viral. Deadly Feasts is packed with historical, anthropological, and epidemiological detail, and is graphic and occasionally even alarming in its speculations.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:05 -0400)

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It lurks in the meat we eat. Undetectable, it incubates for years. It kills by eating holes in people's brains, so that they stagger and collapse and lose their minds. It's one hundred percent fatal. And it's already abroad in America. Deadly Feasts reads like a Michael Crichton thriller - but it's documented fact, bringing sober early warning of a new threat to our very lives that every one of us needs to heed. In this brilliant and gripping medical detective story, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes follows the daring explorations of maverick scientists as they track the emergence of the deadly "stealth" maladies known as prion diseases - strange new disease agents unlike any others known on earth. Mad cow disease is one. Besides hundreds of thousands of cattle, young people in Britain and France have already died from it - died from eating beef.Beginning with a cannibal feast in New Guinea only a few decades ago that killed everyone who partook, Rhodes shows this mysterious group of human and animal diseases spreading gradually throughout the world, infecting and killing laboratory animals; patients in surgery; herds of sheep, cattle, mink, deer and elk; children treated with human growth hormone; and now, ominously, healthy young people in Britain and on the Continent. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announcement in early 1997 of drastic measures to prevent an outbreak of mad cow disease in the United States confirmed what Rhodes reveals and explores in detail: that Americans who eat meat are almost certainly already at risk.… (more)

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