Thursday, August 2, 2012

Help eradicate scrapie

USDA needs help from producers to get surveillance samples to test from flocks and herds that sell cull animals only through nontraditional markets. USDA is asking for owners of these types of flocks or herds to submit the heads of animals found dead between 30 and 52 months of age to the state diagnostic laboratory for scrapie testing.

Suffolk ewe lamb
This is especially true if the sheep are of a black-face meat breed or if they have been commingled with ewes of a black-face meat breed even if the commingling occurred several years ago. In the recent goat cases, there was a history of Suffolk sheep having been commingled with the goats years before the positive goat cases were found.

Likewise it is critical that all producers notify their state veterinarian’s office or their area USDA Veterinary Services office (866/873-2824) if they have a sheep or goat over 18 months of age with neurological signs such as incoordination, behavioral changes or severe frequent rubbing with wool loss and thickened or abraded skin.

Producers can prevent scrapie by maintaining a flock/herd closed to female additions, increasing genetic resistance and/or only purchasing ewes that are genetically resistant or from certified scrapie-free flocks/herds.

Importance of record keeping
It is important for producers to keep good records of sales and purchases. Last year, two positive sheep could not be traced due to poor records. Since the incubation period for scrapie is typically three to five years, it is critical that producers keep purchase and sales records for at least five years.

Source:  Quarterly Scrapie Newsletter. June 12, 2012

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