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If you have any questions, ideas or additions for the Scrapie program up to now or for the coming future please contact the Scrapie program co—ordinator. The Scrapie committee meets annually or upon any specific requests.

September 2005 Scrapie Canada Update

Canadian Sheep Industry Scrapie Genotyping Survey To Be Expanded

The National Scrapie Genotyping Survey has recently been expanded to include all sheep registered under the Canadian Livestock Records Corporation (CLRC). The project started accepting samples in June 2005, with participation restricted to members of the Canadian Sheep Breeders Association (CSBA). With the expanded eligibility, producers of Katahdin, Finnsheep, and any commercial producers wishing to test registered stock will be able to sample their animals under this federally funded project. With lower than anticipated numbers of samples submitted in the first few months of the project, it is hoped that the expansion will boost the number of producers sampling. “This is a unique and time-limited opportunity for producers to test their breeding stock at a discounted rate,” states Jonathan Wort, General Manager of the Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency. “Producers should definitely take advantage of this project while funding is available.”

Scrapie is a prion disease affecting sheep and goats. Although harmless to humans, scrapie is fatal to sheep and goats and carries the stigma of falling within the high profile Transmissible Sponiform Encephalopathy (TSE) family. As with all TSE’s, there is currently no reliable test that can be performed on live animals. Variations in the genetic make-up of sheep, however, are linked to how easily animals will become infected if exposed to the disease. By genotype testing, it is possible to determine which animals are genetically resistant to scrapie and will pass that resistance on to their lambs. Along with most other sheep producing countries, the Canadian sheep industry has made a commitment to reducing the occurrence of scrapie through selective breeding for disease resistance.

Although similar projects have been initiated in several provinces, this is the first nationally available genotyping project in Canada. Largely funded by Agriculture and Agri-food Canada’s Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Program (ACAAF), the project is supported by many national and provincial sheep organizations. “We firmly believe that acting now to reduce the occurrence of scrapie within the national flock is a necessary step for our industry” says Murray Emke president of the Canadian Sheep Breeders Association. “We are very pleased that we can open the project up to a greater number of producers than we originally thought possible.” Mr. Emke views the expansion to include all registered stock as very positive, moving the project to more closely parallel the USDA scrapie program. The Canadian project was already uniquely inclusive with a major goal of maintaining production standards while improving scrapie resistance by sampling ewes as well as rams.

The Genotyping Survey offers producers the opportunity to sample as many registered animals as they wish at a discounted rate for both analysis and veterinarian fees. A simple blood sample is all that is needed to receive genetic results from three codons of the prion gene indicated in scrapie resistance. Other benefits of sampling through this program include interpretation of results and inclusion of results within the national database found on the website https://genenovas.ca.

Canadian Sheep Industry Scrapie Genotyping Survey To Be Expanded

  • Samples from all sheep registered with CLRC are now accepted.
  • Reimbursement of $5 per sample for samples analyzed between June 2003 and June 2005 extended to include results on only one codon (previously required two codons) Animal registration number and copies of official lab are required.
  • Members of the Manitoba Sheep Association have initiated a demonstration project using specially designed ear tags to collect tissue samples for genotype analysis. As the tissue sample is sealed in a tamper-proof container labeled with the same identification number as the animal tag, vets are not required for sample collection. Producers in other provinces who wish to use ear tags for sample collection should contact the Project Coordinator.
Two Sheep

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