It is widely believed that Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are autoimmune diseases causing inflammatory immune responses that damage the digestive system.

One alternative theory is that IBDs are not autoimmune diseases but immune deficiency diseases caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP). MAP prevents the immune system from properly ridding the body of it.

When reading the below story, which makes absolutely no mention of MAP, I couldn’t help by think it might play a part. I read a paper by John Hermon-Taylor a couple years ago and it says that MAP is commonly found in milk and the Red River up in Winnipeg. I had swam in the river as a teenager and 4 months later my symptoms of Crohn’s disease started.

Could something similar be happening to the people of Northport, WA? I hope to ask around and see what the people there think.

Amplify’d from

Study tracks reasons behind high rate of illness near Northport

Gail Leaden was 5 when she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. In high school, Leaden’s best friend in the small town of Northport, Wash., was diagnosed with the same illness.

“It’s not a common disease to begin with,” said Leaden, 25, who now lives in Spokane. “How ironic that my best friend gets it.”

Two doctors from Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital are looking into reports of high rates of bowel disease in Northport, a town of 330 near the Canadian border. In the general population, about 4 people per thousand are diagnosed with Crohn’s or colitis.

“We should be expecting to see one or two cases for a town the size of Northport,” said Dr. Sharyle Fowler, who will be working on the study.

The disease cluster, if it can be confirmed, could shed light on triggers for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, said Dr. Josh Korzenik, director of Massachusetts General’s Crohn’s and Colitis Center. No one knows what causes the diseases, which affect 1.5 million Americans, but both appear to have genetic and environmental contributors.

“We were drawn to this because it’s an unusual cluster, or potential cluster, in a small population,” Korzenik said.
Rates of Crohn’s disease and colitis are on the upswing in industrialized countries.
About 320 current and former Northport residents provided health information. Thirty-six said they had ulcerative colitis; 18 said they had Crohn’s disease.

Jamie Paparich suspects a link to the smelter. Her grandparents raised six children on a farm outside of Northport, about 15 miles downwind and downstream of the smelter owned by Teck Resources Ltd. For decades, the century-old smelter released tons of pollution daily into the air and the Columbia River, including mercury and other heavy metals.

Both her dad and her aunt, who grew up on the farm, were diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. They ate vegetables from the family’s garden and swam in the Columbia River.
The families “weren’t related by any stretch, yet we all had these same problems,” said Kalamarides

Deane said the smelter has cleaned up its act. In 1995, the smelter stopped dumping slag, a byproduct of the smelting process, into the Columbia River. Slag contains 25 compounds, including heavy metals. The smelter also halted production of phosphate fertilizer, reducing mercury releases into the river.

Northport resident Barb Anderson thinks the community needs answers.

At Rockwood Clinic in Spokane, where the diagnosis was made, doctors were surprised that two of Kelsey’s classmates had the same illness, said Barb Anderson. Leaden also remains troubled by the coincidence. It makes her suspect “that something’s not right.”