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1.  Genotyping and surveillance for scrapie in Finnish sheep 
Background
The progression of scrapie is known to be influenced by the amino acid polymorphisms of the host prion protein (PrP) gene. There is no breeding programme for TSE resistance in sheep in Finland, but a scrapie control programme has been in place since 1995.
In this study we have analysed PrP genotypes of total of 928 purebred and crossbred sheep together with the data of scrapie survey carried out in Finland during 2002–2008 in order to gain knowledge of the genotype distribution and scrapie prevalence in Finnish sheep.
Results
The ARQ/ARQ genotype was the most common genotype in all breeds studied. ARR allele frequency was less than 12% in purebred Finnish sheep and in most genotypes heterozygous for ARR, the second allele was ARQ. The VRQ allele was not detected in the Grey race sheep of Kainuu or in the Aland sheep, and it was present in less than 6% of the Finnish Landrace sheep. Leucine was the most prominent amino acid found in codon 141. In addition, one novel prion dimorphisms of Q220L was detected. During the scrapie survey of over 15 000 sheep in 2002–2008, no classical scrapie cases and only five atypical scrapie cases were detected.
Conclusions
The results indicate that the Finnish sheep populations have genetically little resistance to classical scrapie, but no classical scrapie was detected during an extensive survey in 2002–2008. However, five atypical scrapie cases emerged; thus, the disease is present in the Finnish sheep population at a low level.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-122
PMCID: PMC3414783  PMID: 22831168
2.  The prevalence of atypical scrapie in sheep from positive flocks is not higher than in the general sheep population in 11 European countries 
Background
During the last decade, active surveillance for transmissible spongiform encephalopathies in small ruminants has been intensive in Europe. In many countries this has led to the detection of cases of atypical scrapie which, unlike classical scrapie, might not be contagious. EU legislation requires, that following detection of a scrapie case, control measures including further testing take place in affected flocks, including the culling of genotype susceptible to classical scrapie. This might result in the detection of additional cases. The aim of this study was to investigate the occurrence of additional cases in flocks affected by atypical scrapie using surveillance data collected in Europe in order to ascertain whether atypical scrapie, is contagious.
Results
Questionnaires were used to collect, at national level, the results of active surveillance and testing associated with flock outbreaks in 12 European countries. The mean prevalence of atypical scrapie was 5.5 (5.0-6.0) cases per ten thousand in abattoir surveillance and 8.1 (7.3-9.0) cases per ten thousand in fallen stock. By using meta-analysis, on 11 out of the 12 countries, we found that the probability of detecting additional cases of atypical scrapie in positive flocks was similar to the probability observed in animals slaughtered for human consumption (odds ratio, OR = 1.07, CI95%: 0.70-1.63) or among fallen stock (OR = 0.78, CI95%: 0.51-1.2). In contrast, when comparing the two scrapie types, the probability of detecting additional cases in classical scrapie positive flocks was significantly higher than the probability of detecting additional cases in atypical scrapie positive flocks (OR = 32.4, CI95%: 20.7-50.7).
Conclusions
These results suggest that atypical scrapie is not contagious or has a very low transmissibility under natural conditions compared with classical scrapie. Furthermore this study stressed the importance of standardised data collection to make good use of the analyses undertaken by European countries in their efforts to control atypical and classical scrapie.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-6-9
PMCID: PMC2832631  PMID: 20137097

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