Thank you for visiting the PARA web site. Paratuberculosis Awareness & Research Association (PARA) is an organization of Crohn's disease patients, their families and others who are concerned about the relationship between MAP (Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis) and Crohn's disease. PARA was founded with one ultimate goal in mind: Bring an end to Crohn's disease!
Crohn's disease is a painful, chronic, often debilitating, inflammatory disease of the intestinal tract that affects at least 500,000 Americans, and millions more worldwide. That figure is based on extremely conservative estimates. Sadly, this condition can be termed "a disease of the young" because it primarily targets young people in the prime of life, between the ages of 15 and 25.
Incorporated in mid-1997, PARA was formed because we became aware of scientific evidence suggesting that MAP may be causing Crohn's disease. At its inception, PARA began contacting a handful of highly regarded researchers and physicians who, despite little or no available funding, were valiantly, sometimes at their own expense, continuing to pursue the truth about MAP and Crohn's disease. (Today many of these researchers sit on PARA's Medical and Scientific Advisory Council.) Most impressively, these researchers were amassing a rapidly growing body of evidence -- evidence suggesting a causal link between MAP and Crohn's disease. In the past six years the entire story has become increasingly clear, and the evidence has become increasingly compelling.
We are gravely concerned by research that shows that MAP may be transmitted to humans through foods derived from cattle with MAP infection, known as Johne's Disease. (The most extensive web site about Johne's Disease is the Johne's Disease Information Center.)
What a tragedy it will be if the evidence should prove that our children are being infected with MAP and that MAP causes the devastating disease known as Crohn's disease, and although it was within our power to protect our children, we chose not to do so.
Why is PARA Concerned?
PARA is concerned because there is a rapidly growing body of scientific evidence, published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, which suggests that human infection with the Mycobacterium known as Mycobacterium avium, supspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) -- a recognized pathogen in animals (including primates) -- may be causing some, and possibly all, cases of Crohn's disease. A bulleted summary of peer-reviewed and published scientific evidence is presented below:
- Numerous diseases in cattle can be passed to human beings through cattle/cattle products (e.g. tuberculosis)
- MAP is a pathogenic (disease-causing) bacterium, which causes chronic intestinal disease in a wide range of animals, including sub-human primates and cattle.
- MAP causes Johne's Disease in cattle. MAP (Johne's Disease) infection in cattle bears remarkable clinical similarity to Crohn's disease in humans (e.g. chronic or intermittent diarrhea, ileum/intestinal/systemic involvement, wasting, immune system reaction, etc.).
- MAP is excreted in the milk of dairy cattle infected with Johne's Disease (MAP infection)
- MAP in milk may survive pasteurization.
- MAP infection (Johne's disease) prevalence is increasing in cattle. Similarly, the prevalence of Crohn's disease is reported to be increasing in human beings.
- MAP has been found in Crohn's disease patients by bacteriologic culture.
- MAP has been found in Crohn's disease/IBD patients by genetic probes (including both DNA, and RNA).
- MAP found in Crohn's disease patients is of the Bovine (cattle) subtype, meaning of "bovine origin"
- Profound remissions in Crohn's disease patients have been induced using anti-mycobacterial drug therapy which has effectivity against MAP. (Note: One study alone documented profound remission in over 80% of Crohn's disease patients using anti-mycobacterial drugs which has effectivity against MAP)
- Koch's Postulates, which are required to establish that a particular organism causes a specific disease, "...may have already been met for Crohn's disease and MAP." -- per Dr. R.J. Greenstein
Narrative Summary of Bullet Points
Collectively, the above peer-reviewed and published scientific information suggests that Crohn's disease/IBD may be caused by infection with MAP and that MAP infection may possibly be contracted through human ingestion of unpasteurized and pasteurized milk and cattle products. Moreover, these studies further suggest that the possible cure (or at least long-term remission) for Crohn's disease may be treatment with certain combinations of anti-mycobacterial antibiotics which has effective against MAP.
National Institutes of Health Share PARA's Concerns
As additional support for the validity of PARA's concerns, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), an institute of the world renowned U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), has taken significant action -- including publishing an entirely new Research Agenda to place the search for an infectious etiology, (with particular emphasis on MAP), of Crohn's disease at the forefront of Crohn's disease research. (Visit the dedicated NIAID/NIH Research Agenda page for detailed information). Furthermore, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and National Institute of Diabetes Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) has recently funded significant research into the Crohn's/MAP association.
The Question Must Finally Be Answered
It is not our intention to try to persuade others into believing that MAP causes Crohn's disease. Rather, our intention is to inform and bring awareness to the Crohn's community and the general public about this issue -- of which very few outside the scientific world had knowledge until PARA was formed.
We have asked urgent and critical questions, ones that must be answered conclusively once and for all. Finally answering the question, "Does MAP cause Crohn's disease" will end the controversy that has surrounded this issue for decades, and it will lead us closer to one day ending the carnage of Crohn's disease.
Those of us who live with the disease want only the truth -- for, the truth is indeed the only thing that will set us free. We hope that after reading the information contained in this web site, you will join us in seeking these important answers.