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News Release

CountryDateRelease Date

United States

March 7 2001


Suspect Crohn's bug found in breast milk

Florida researchers present findings

Study compares Crohn's patients with healthy controls

In the American Journal of Gastroenterology (April 2000) Doctors Saleh A. Naser and Ira Shafran report finding Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) in the breast milk of lactating Crohn's disease patients.

The study included seven breast milk samples: Two from Crohn's disease patients and five from healthy controls. The controls exhibited no evidence of MAP, but the two samples from Crohn's disease patients did clearly show the presence of MAP.

Since MAP is difficult to culture in the laboratory, the researchers used the most advanced procedures known to date to grow the organism. Then with DNA analysis, they were able to reliably detect the presence or absence of MAP in the breast milk samples.

Looking for MAP in a new place

MAP is the known cause of Johne's Disease in cattle -- a disease whose clinical symptoms are similar to Crohn's disease. MAP has been suspected of being transmitted to humans through contaminated cow's milk. Indeed, MAP has been found in intestinal tissue specimens taken from Crohn's disease patients. But Drs. Naser and Shafran decided to look where others had not -- in the breast milk of lactating Crohn's disease mothers. The researchers point to their results as "...further demonstrating the gross similarity between humans diagnosed with Crohn's disease and Johne's Disease mammals infected with MAP."

Dr. Naser is a microbiologist and Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida.

Dr. Shafran has been a leader in the use of antibiotic treatment for Crohn's Disease in the United States.


Naser SA, Schwartz D, Shafran I.
Isolation of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis from breast milk of Crohn's disease patients.
American Journal of Gastroenterology 2000 Apr;95(4):1094-95

For further information contact

ContactKaren Meyer and Cheryl Miller
Co-Executive Directors, Paratuberculosis Awareness and Research Association, Inc.
E-mailKaren --or-- Cheryl

Paratuberculosis Awareness and Research Association, Inc.

is a non-profit organization of Crohn's disease patients, their families and friends who are dedicated to the following goals:
  1. To raise awareness of the zoonotic (disease-causing) potential of the bacterium, MAP, in the national community of sufferers of Crohn's disease, in medical, veterinary and food science research communities, in governmental agencies and in the public in general
  2. To urge governmental agencies to directly address control and eventual eradication of MAP from the human environment, particularly from foods of animal origin
  3. To urge governmental and medical research agencies to make funding available for research which will determine the role played by MAP in causing Crohn's disease

Paratuberculosis Awareness and Research Association, Inc.
Box 16219
Temple Terrace, FL 33687-6219

Source:   Contact PARA:
Paratuberculosis Awareness & Research Association