Mycobacteria is a genus of Actinobacteria that causes serious diseases in mammals (tuberculosis and leprosy are examples of Mycobacterial diseases). A species of Mycobacteria named Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP) is a pathogenic bacteria found in the gut of ruminant animals like cows and causes Johne’s disease (paratuberculosis) in ruminant animals.1 2 3 4 5 6

Paratuberculosis causes diarrhea and wasting in the cattle and causes the cows to develop inflammatory bowel disease. Treatment of paratuberculosis in cattle is limited because of the cost of using human treatments for Mycobacterial infection. Usually, the most cost effective measure is to destroy the infected herd.7 8 9 10 11 12

MAP is the primary cause of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease in humans. One of the deciding factors in whether anyone succumbs to ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease seems to be the amount of MAP that that person is exposed. Lesser exposure to MAP leads to ulcerative colitis, where greater exposure to MAP causes Crohn’s disease.13 14 15 16 17 18

MAP has recently been discovered as a zoological disease (a disease that can be transferred from animals to humans or vice versa). MAP can be transferred to humans when contact with infected cattle feces occurs, drinking improperly treated farm runoff water, ingesting beef, or ingesting milk and dairy products from infected cows. There are case studies identifying farmers with MAP after contact with aerosolized cow feces. MAP infections also originate from cattle farm runoff encountering municipal drinking water. MAP is a very resistant bacterium that can survive up to nine months in mud, a year in cow manure, and up to two years in water. Standard industrial water treatment such as filtration systems and chlorination may prove to be an ineffective treatment against eliminating MAP.19 20 21 22 23 24

MAP also has been discovered in beef, but the levels are lower than other infection routes if the meat is prepared properly. Cow muscle tissue does not contain many bacteria, but if the meat is not processed and prepared properly, feces can encounter the meat and infect it with MAP. MAP can also survive standard cooking temperatures, but it can be eliminated at prolonged temperatures around 165F. MAP also appears to be resistant to nitrates and smoke as well.25 26 27 4 29 30

Scientific literature indicates that humans are commonly exposed to Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis from the ingestion of milk and other dairy products like kefir and yogurt. The proposed reason is that the bacteria in milk are more invasive and populous than other routes of exposure. MAP is protected by the higher fat content of some dairy products. Fat globules protect MAP from stomach acid so that it can survive in greater numbers allowing it reaches the intestines. Raw dairy has a greater concentration of MAP bacteria than properly pasteurized dairy. The correlation between this data is unknown though because MAP can survive pasteurization. Research is mixed about if pasteurized milk and dairy products are safer and contain less MAP then if they are raw. I suggest anyone who is drinking dairy to consume pasture raised, vat pasteurized milk, for the healthiest way possible of trying to avoid MAP. Finally, Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis can also survive freezing (ice cream) for up to a year.31 32 33 4 35 36

If you have ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, I would avoid all dairy products and most beef products except for well-done steak until the infection is reduced. If you want to learn about fighting the bacterium, I suggest you pick up a copy of my book, Fix Your Gut, and contact me for coaching.

  1. http://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(17)33383-8/abstract
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3031217/
  3. http://www.gutpathogens.com/content/1/1/15
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12901893
  5. http://www.crohnsmapvaccine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/literature-supporting-hypothesis-that-map-causes-crohns.pdf
  6. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/17474124.2017.1300529
  7. http://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(17)33383-8/abstract
  8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3031217/
  9. http://www.gutpathogens.com/content/1/1/15
  10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12901893
  11. http://www.crohnsmapvaccine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/literature-supporting-hypothesis-that-map-causes-crohns.pdf
  12. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/17474124.2017.1300529
  13. http://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(17)33383-8/abstract
  14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3031217/
  15. http://www.gutpathogens.com/content/1/1/15
  16. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12901893
  17. http://www.crohnsmapvaccine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/literature-supporting-hypothesis-that-map-causes-crohns.pdf
  18. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/17474124.2017.1300529
  19. http://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(17)33383-8/abstract
  20. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3031217/
  21. http://www.gutpathogens.com/content/1/1/15
  22. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12901893
  23. http://www.crohnsmapvaccine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/literature-supporting-hypothesis-that-map-causes-crohns.pdf
  24. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/17474124.2017.1300529
  25. http://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(17)33383-8/abstract
  26. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3031217/
  27. http://www.gutpathogens.com/content/1/1/15
  28. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12901893
  29. http://www.crohnsmapvaccine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/literature-supporting-hypothesis-that-map-causes-crohns.pdf
  30. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/17474124.2017.1300529
  31. http://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(17)33383-8/abstract
  32. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3031217/
  33. http://www.gutpathogens.com/content/1/1/15
  34. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12901893
  35. http://www.crohnsmapvaccine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/literature-supporting-hypothesis-that-map-causes-crohns.pdf
  36. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/17474124.2017.1300529
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