Scrapie can be transmitted to lambs through milk, according to new research. The study provides important information on the transmission of this prion-associated disease and the control of scrapie in affected flocks. Scrapie is a fatal neurodegenerative disease of sheep and goats.
Timm Konold and colleagues from the Veterinary Laboratories Agency in Weybridge, United Kingdom, investigated the transmission of scrapie by feeding milk from scrapie-affected ewes to lambs that are genetically susceptible to contracting scrapie. The researchers were looking for the presence of the prion protein, PrPd, which is associated with the disease.
Eighteen lambs were fed milk from scrapie-affected ewes. Three of these lambs were culled and two were found to have PrPd in intestinal tissues. The prion protein was also detected in lymphoid tissue of the gut of the surviving lambs and in some control lambs, mixed with the scrapie milk recipients after weaning.
According to Katherine O'Rourke, Ph.D., of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, "These results help confirm earlier research demonstrating that abnormal prions can be found in the udders of some scrapie-infected sheep with mastitis."
There are no known human health implications from scrapie.
Source: ASI Weekly, April 11, 2008.
Adapted from a news story by Sciencedaily.com