Warning: mad squirrel disease

It seems to me Cecil should have mentioned the fact that squirrel head eating, a common practice, apparently, in Kentucky and nearby reigions (I live, unfortunately, in southern Indiana, but, fortunately, have not been yet exposed to this practice), has been implicated in the transmission of spongiform encephalopathy, AKA mad cow disease. The transmisive agents (postulatively identified with the neologism “prion”) appear to survive the frying to which apparently delectible squirrel brains are subjected prior to consumption. There are reported cases in rural humans of a disease resembling mad cow disease which have been traced to the consumption of squirrel brains.

Just something to keep in mind the next time you’re lip-lickingly skinning one of our bushy-tailed buddies: you might want to consider discarding the head.

A link to the column is appreciated. Providing one can be as simple as pasting the URL into your post, making sure to leave a space on either side of it. The column in question is http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_014.html

Note that this column was written in 1976, while the link between squirrel brains and CJD was first published in Lancet in 1997. For more about the link, see http://www.mad-cow.org/~tom/victim23.html

I forgot to link, I posted three times, and, worst, I didn’t realize it was a “classic” column, which antedated the stuff i cited by a decade, obviating my critique. I’m just going to go hide in my bathroom for a while.

two decades.

Don’t sweat it, veg. You aren’t the first to overlook that, and I’m sure you won’t be the last. At least you posted useful information.

The column can also be found on pages 14-15 of Cecil Adams’ book «The Straight Dope (1984; reissued 1986, 1998)».

In any case, considering the sorts of people likely to be eating squirrel heads (I can’t believe I’m typing that!), if they did get CJD, how could anybody tell?