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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.

April 2006 Scrapie Canada Update

Scrapie Programs from Around the World: Getting the Broader Perspective

In light of the irreversible damage resulting from the BSE crisis, sheep industries throughout the world are recognizing the importance of planning ahead when it comes to animal health and global trade.

Countries like Canada, the US, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands, France, and Iceland have all developed national initiatives to prevent, control and eliminate Scrapie- the most costly disease facing sheep industries worldwide.

Over the next few issues of OSN, Scrapie programs from around the world will be reviewed, highlighting the steps individual nations are taking to eradicate this threatening disease. This issue will focus on the Scrapie program initiated by England, Wales, and Scotland.

A joint effort of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Departments for Great Britain, the National Scrapie Plan (NSP) of England, Wales and Scotland was launched on July 19, 2001. The NSP has been designed to control and eradicate Transmissible Spongiform Encepholopathies (TSEs) from the national flock through genotyping and selective breeding using rams shown to be genetically resistant to the disease.

Over time, the NSP aims to increase the prevalence of the ‘ARR’ allele, which is the gene known to be highly resistant to scrapie and TSEs in general.

Farms with both purebred and commercial flocks can join the program, but regulated controls must be put into place to ensure the integrity of the purebred flock.

At least 40 sheep must be tested per sample visit. All stock rams are genotyped, together with a proportion of ram lambs. If the total of stock rams is fewer than 40, additional ram lambs and/ or ewes may also be tested to make the total up to 40. Once a farm is participating in the program and breeding using sheep with resistant genotypes, a proportion of the ram lambs are tested annually.

What is unique about the NSP is that there are numerous schemes and initiatives that farmers can choose to follow- 10 in total- working towards a healthier and genetically stronger flock.

And if flock health improvement is not incentive enough to join, the EU has actually made it the law! As of April 1, 2005, the EU legislated that all registered purebred flocks are required to participate in a Scrapie genotyping breeding program, in one form or another.

This decision is based on evidence from the European Commission’s Scientific Steering Committee, which supported pro-active control and eradication of scrapie- recommending breeding towards resistance as a way to maintain national animal health and access to the global marketplace.

The program seems to be a success. In its 5 short years in existence, over one million samples have already been drawn and analyzed. It is estimated that there are over 40,000 purebred flocks throughout England, Wales and Scotland that could potentially apply to the program.

For more information on the National Scrapie Plan, please see the following website: National Scrapie Plan

Two Sheep

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