Week of:
Jul 03, 2020

BSE (Mad cow disease) from gelatin?

Dear Alice,

I would like to know if I should be concerned with the risk of contracting "bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)" or its human variant, from the use of vitamins, supplements, over-the-counter medication, or pills prescribed by a doctor which contain gelatin?

I understand that one of the main components of gelatin comes from the bones and skin of cows and that it is often imported from other countries. I also understand that it is highly unlikely that the standard processes involved in producing gelatin would ever remove or disable the BSE contamination.

It is also very alarming that BSE has a long incubation period (years) whereby the infected person has no symptoms. However, when symptoms do occur, the person dies a horrible death, via a deformed and shrinking brain, usually soon thereafter.

Since gelatin is used in so many food products, is it realistic to try avoiding all gelatin?

What are the mathematical chances of contracting the disease from gelatin in a food product?

Is there fewer gelatins in a standard hard pill as opposed to a "soft gel" capsule?

I feel the FDA, U.S. Government, and more importantly, the food and supplement industries, should do more to insure that all food products and supplements used in America are free from contamination of this horrible disease in order to prevent any chance of an outbreak like the one seen in Europe a few years ago.

I would appreciate your thoughts on this subject.

Thank you,

Geese feces health risks?

Dear Alice,

I have been frequently going to a public beach that is infested with Canada geese poop. It is everywhere! There are a lot of children and families also at this beach. I am wondering what the health risks are to children as well as to adults sitting and playing in this feces?

My partner is moving in, but they're allergic to my pets

1) Alice,

I am very much in love with my girlfriend. She would like to come live with me next summer (between semesters), but I have a cat and she is allergic. I was thinking that if I kept the house well vacuumed, and bought an air filter, gave the cat baths, or something, it might help. Do you have any suggestions? I love them both, neither more than the other, but I don't know what to do. Thanks.

— Friend of Cat

2) Hi Alice,

After all these years, I've finally met The One. He's wonderful, he's kind, he's perfect, he's... he's allergic to my dogs. My mother (who apparently approves of him!) says that there are pills that one can take for allergies to pets. I've searched and can't find anything other than OTC antihistamines and snake oil. His symptoms are mild mucous membrane irritation; however, I wouldn't ask him to live with that or with the side effects that go with antihistamines. Are there other alternatives we don't know about?

Will a healthy dog's bite make me sick?

Hi Alice,

Are dog bites severe if you know the dog had all of its shots and is healthy? If I wash the cut properly and put some rubbing alcohol on it and keep it clean and dry, will I be ok?

signed, dog bitten