One of my current projects nearing completion is a bio-thriller addressing the real threat of spreading prion disease. There have been numerous beginnings and titles, but the ending has never changed – death. After years of research, multiple critiques, two final beta reads and a new title, I have the book nearly ready for agent queries.
Since the outbreak of mad cow disease in Great Britain in the 1990s, awareness of this contagious fatal disease has improved. More people recognize the term prion, (pree – on) but few experience the proper level of alarm at this strange contagious protein found in meat. The abnormal infectious protein acts like an untreatable virus or bacteria targeting the nervous system that inevitably kills.
Scientists have studied prions for decades and are closer to early diagnosis in cattle and wildlife. Prevention is key to survival. Spread among animals, and to humans must be stopped. Infection means death. It takes 1-2 years for symptoms in animals to become apparent so early detection to cull infected animals before they enter the food supply is essential. You could be eating contaminated beef, venison, elk, and moose without recognizing it is infected.
Cooking the meat well-done doesn’t damage prion infectivity. The protein is resistant to common methods of sterilization and is stable in the environment, contaminating ground for decades. Do I have your attention?
I’ll be busy sending out queries soon. Stay tuned.
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