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Instructions: Read, then take one grain of salt

Leave it to the amateurs to figure out what stumps the brightest of medical professionals. Old wives tales still prove effective in treating the common cold. And now a Navy man named Ron Swanson with limited bioscience research experience has preliminary findings that link an E. coli strain with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Like flies to a watermelon feast, the ALS arena is swarming around Swanson's findings.

Swanson, a Navy Health Physicist specializing in environmental studies and control, was convinced that bacterial infections in the central nervous system would show a connection to neurological diseases. His research began based on a personal desire to find an effective treatment for ALS. Years ago doctors unanimously diagnosed his wife with the thus-far-incurable disease. Both he and his wife had an inkling that the Lyme infection she had suffered previously had weakened her immune system and left her central nervous system open for damage by bacteria.

After her ALS diagnosis, she was given a three-month, heavy-dose treatment of antibiotics, and their inkling seemed to be correct - her ALS's progression halted. At that point, Swanson knew he had something to prove and went to work on his loose theory that ALS is caused by bacteria and therefore could be treated with antibiotics.

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) had conducted geographical surveys of the number of cases of neurological disorders such as Parkinson's, MS and ALS and the prevalence of bacteria in the environment. Swanson found that there tends to be more victims of neurological disorders in environments in which there is a significant presence of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli strain (STEC).

But does STEC cause ALS? That's exactly Swanson's contention based on this data. He also points out in his 139-page report that E. coli is the main cause for low platelet levels in an infected body, and low platelet levels are the signature effect of thrombotic thrombocytopenic pupura (TTP), the main neurological syndrome caused by ALS.

If STEC infections do not cause ALS, they sure seem to serve as wide-open doors that ALS requires in order to affect a victims central nervous system.

Reader bear in mind that Swanson is self-admittedly not a bioresearcher. He has had no formal training in neurological disorders, and his report is still very raw. His findings have yet to be seriously, extensively reviewed by the CDC, the ALS Association, and the Muscular Distrophy Association, just to name a few organizations that are being sent copies of his report. In the meantime, Swanson has gotten the word out about his findings via the June 2, 2003, issue of the ALS Digest.

All the public and ALS families can do at this point is wait, and knowing how the medical world works, it could be years before anyone publicly acknowledges Swanson's findings.

For more information on E. coli 0157 visit

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