25 Aug Finish the fight against scrapie: Brains needed!
The following announcement was distributed by USDA on August 24, 2023.
The United States is nearing the goal line after a 70-year battle against scrapie, a fatal disease that affects the brain of sheep and goats. The current program has been very successful in drastically reducing the amount of scrapie in this country, but we are still finding scrapie-positive animals. The two most recent cases of scrapie found in the U.S. were sampled at slaughter. One was a sheep tested in Wisconsin in 2021; the second was a goat in Indiana in 2019. We were unable to identify the flock/herd of origin in each case. These cases indicate there may be farms with cases of scrapie.
One of the most difficult aspects of an eradication program is finding the remaining cases of the disease. This involves testing sheep and goats that are showing signs of scrapie as well as those mature animals that may be incubating the disease. Here is where we need your help! If you examine an adult sheep or goat that exhibits signs of scrapie such as ataxia, tremor, pruritus, or other neurological signs OR you have a client with an adult sheep or goat that dies or has to be euthanized (even if the cause of death is known), please contact your local State or USDA, APHIS Veterinary Services veterinarian or call 866-536-7593. There is no charge for collecting or testing the samples. In addition, producers providing samples may be eligible for free official plastic tags as long as our supplies last.
For a country to be considered free of scrapie, international standards require that no sheep or goat test positive for classical scrapie in the last 7 years. To demonstrate freedom, a certain level of testing that represents the sheep and goat population of the country must be done each year. The annual goal set for the United States is 40,000 samples collected from mature (18 months of age or older) sheep and goats. Please help the U.S. small ruminant industry attain this goal.