MAP in the Environment

MAP in Food



Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP), which causes Johne's Disease in many species of ruminants, is endemic in the food animal herds of almost every developed country. According to a study conducted by the USDA in 1996, in the United States, between 20% and 40% of dairy cattle herds are infected with MAP, resulting in economic losses of at least US$1.5 billion each and every year. 

Results of a new USDA survey will be published in  2003 based on data collected in 2002.  With Johne's disease increasing at an alarming rate, undoubtedly the new figures will be higher, perhaps significantly higher, than those in 1996.

In this section of our website we will discuss the Paratuberculosis Problem, and the two main routes of transmission to humans:  Food and water.     Given the rampant spread of Johne's disease worldwide, consumers should be asking leaders of the cattle industry, government officials, food safety authorities, distributors of dairy/beef food products, and retail supermarkets/food chains that sell dairy/beef food products:  

"What are you doing to protect us from exposure to MAP?"  

MAP in Food

Since MAP is not classified as a human pathogen, meat, milk and other products from animals infected with MAP may be continually entering the human food chain. There is a wealth of evidence which appears to indicate that MAP is capable of surviving the food processing methods that we employ to protect us from disease, such as cooking and pasteurization. This scientific evidence is thoroughly reviewed and discussed in the MAP in dairy products,  MAP in beef products, and Marshfield Clinic Study - Retail Testing sections of our website.  

MAP in Water

Another possible route of transmission of MAP from cattle to humans is via contaminated water supplies.  This is because MAP is shed onto pastures and will be washed off into ground and river waters.  Where such water is piped to households for human consumption, it may enable MAP to infect people by this route as well. 

While it is possible for individuals to eliminate milk/dairy/beef products from their diet in an attempt to limit MAP exposure, it appears to be nearly impossible to avoid drinking MAP-contaminated water from public water supplies, and equally as difficult to avoid foods that have potentially been infected with MAP via irrigation methods using infected water.  There is an urgent need to determine what water treatment methods may be effective at eliminating MAP from water supplies. 

What's Being Done to Control MAP?

Even though there are various herd control programs underway throughout the world, most are voluntary and do not demonstrate a will on the part of industry or government to protect the public.  If industry and the responsible agencies of government were truly concerned about the public health, extremely aggressive measures would be implemented.   At a minimum, Johne's herd control programs should be mandatory, not voluntary.    

Sadly, what is being done is too little and too late,
far too late for those suffering from Crohn's disease
and far too late for those that are literally
time bombs in terms of becoming symptomatic for Crohns'  ravages.  

(Please see the Governments section of our website for detailed information about actions taking place in various countries throughout the world.)

Source:   Contact PARA:
Paratuberculosis Awareness & Research Association, 1999-2003.