MAP & Crohn’s Disease
Pathogenic Bacteria have long been suspected to contribute to IBD, however, a specific strain has not been conclusively identified. Elevated antibody levels and characteristic changes in intestinal flora, between IBD and infectious bowel diseases inspire researchers to investigate a shared bacterial trigger. Some researchers theorize, invasive pathogenic bacteria cause IBD, while others believe IBD patients have a hyper immune response to normal gastrointestinal bacteria. IBD reactions have been observed from both pathogenic and normal bacteria, and include severe intestinal inflammation, degradation of mucosa, and cytokine hyper production. Research indicates that predispositions differentiate bacterial responses from person to person, further complicating the quest to identify a single cause for every individual. The most commonly indicated bacteria involved in IBD include mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis, M. paramyxovirus, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Helicobacter hepaticus.
Internationally recognized Chron’s disease expert, Dr. Jon Hermon-Taylor, and several researchers, believe the bacteria mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis, (MAP) is responsible for the Chron’s disease epidemic, and is transferable through bovine milk and contaminated water. MAP is a bacterium responsible for Johne’s disease, and causes chronic inflammation and fatal intestinal disease in several domestic animals, especially dairy cows, and has similar characteristics as Chron’s disease. MAP can be detected in commercially purchased dairy products and meat, but because it is not considered a human pathogen, MAP may be continually entering the food chain. Presently, tests used to identify MAP are costly and take 10-14 days to complete, and impede dairy processing which leads to financial loss. There is no way to visibly identify MAP in cattle until the latter stages when the animal is approaching death. MAP has the ability to survive high levels of heat. In one study done by the Department of Food Science in Ireland, several pasteurization methods were exercised on cow dairy including variables in duration, heat and homogenization. Results concluded that MAP is capable of surviving commercial pasteurization regardless of method applied. Samples have been identified in milk pasteurized at temperatures up to 179.6 degrees, but countries such as America, only require farms to pasteurize at 71.1 degrees. The American Journal of Gastroenterology printed in 2005 that MAP bacteria exist in the intestinal lesions of most Crohn’s disease patients, and can be detected by blood in 50% of those same patients, indicating that like livestock infected with MAP, the bacteria is capable of traveling into the human circulatory system from the gastrointestinal tract, and provoke additional complications. In one recent study, biopsies from the intestinal lesions of Chron’s disease patients contained MAP bacteria in 83% of patients compared to zero levels in controls.
Crohn’s disease occurs concurrently with MAP prevalent areas affecting small groups of people, called cluster patients, who live in the same geographic location. Map contamination runs off livestock areas, and into river systems that feed areas that have higher incidences of crohn’s disease diagnosis. In Olmstead County Minnesota there was a shocking 31% increase in the diagnosis of crohn’s disease between 1991 to 2000. Clusters of Crohn’s disease patients living in close proximity, who did not know each other, developed the disease and positively tested for MAP bacteria, as did their water supply. Local water sources including a frequently swam in lake, and rivers contained significant levels of MAP. Water treatment and chlorination do not typically kill MAP bacteria. Cluster cases of Crohn’s disease reported in correlation with water contamination by MAP and other pathogenic bacteria have come from several countries over the world. The Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of northern France is of great interest to health practitioners for its extremely high incidence of IBD disorders and diagnosis. One study indicated that two out of every 100,000 children developed Chron’s disease in Northern France. Clustering of Crohn’s disease in Mankato, Minnesota analyzed a group of high school students who graduated in 1980. 7 out of 285 contacted students were positive for crohn’s disease; an incident rate of 2,400 out 100,000, that gives strong evidence to a pathogenic bacteria cause. Local water testing showed high levels of fecal contamination from animals and/or humans in 52-67% of samples.