The National Scrapie Eradication Program: Questions and Answers
December 15, 2003
The following scrapie question-and-answer piece is the seventh such column to appear in Sheep Industry News. It is being brought to you by the U.S. Department of Agriculture?s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, which oversees the National Scrapie Eradication Program. If you have a program-related question you?d like answered, please e-mail it to Sheep Industry News Editor Laura Gerhard at email@example.com, fax it to her attention at (303) 771-8200 or write: ASI; Attn: Laura Gerhard, 9785 Maroon Circle; Suite 360; Centennial, CO 80112.
Q: Several months ago, I heard that USDA Veterinary Services (VS) was starting a process to approve private laboratories to do official genotype testing for the scrapie program. Can you tell me where VS is with genotype laboratory approval?
A: Two laboratories have been approved and are in the process of being officially notified:
- Gene Check, Inc.; 1629 Blue Spruce Drive; Suite 106; Fort Collins, CO 80524; (800)-822-6740
- GenMARK; 1825 Infinity Drive; DeForest, WI 53532; (877)-766-3446
Several other laboratories have submitted approved application packages and passed preliminary proficiency testing panels. They are completing the final proficiency tests.
Producers wishing to have official testing should contact their accredited veterinarian to schedule blood collection and to ensure proper submission forms are used. Accredited veterinarians can obtain these by contacting the APHIS Area Veterinarian in Charge for their state.
Q: How will these laboratories be used in the Scrapie Eradication Program?
A: Laboratories that have been approved to conduct official scrapie genotype testing will be eligible to:
- conduct official testing on samples collected by accredited private veterinarians for producers for which the producer pays the testing and blood collection fees.
- compete with other approved genotyping laboratories to conduct official Scrapie Eradication Program testing funded by USDA/APHIS.
Q: What importance does genotyping have for Scrapie eradication and prevention?
- In infected flocks using genotyping to identify susceptible sheep reduces the number of animals that need to be removed from the flock.
- In an exposed flock, genotyping allows the susceptible sheep to be identified for testing.
- In open flocks where scrapie may be introduced through the purchase of ewes, the selection and use of breeding rams with a resistant genotype RR at Codon 171 is the single most important step a producer can take to increase flock resistance and prevent the spread of scrapie in the flock. The most effective way to prevent scrapie introduction is to maintain a closed ewe flock.