The application of a selective culling programme in two scrapie affected flocks of Massese breed sheep is described. The genetic susceptibility of this breed and the sensitivity of different diagnostic methods in the pre-clinical diagnosis of scrapie were also investigated. Overall, 2,068 clinically healthy sheep underwent PrP genotyping, providing the basis for selective culling. The prevalence of scrapie infection was investigated in susceptible sheep by two independent diagnostic methods. All the sheep older than 18 months (n = 620) were tested by Prionics ® Check Western rapid test on the obex, with a prevalence of infection of 3.9%. Furthermore, 385 sheep underwent immunohistochemistry (IHC) on retropharyngeal lymph node (RPLN), with a prevalence of infection of 5.2%. Overall, 32 sheep were diagnosed with pre-clinical scrapie. Of these, 31 were positive by Western blot on the spleen, 29 by IHC on the RPLN and tonsil, 28 by IHC on the obex, 24 by rapid test, and only 18 by IHC on the third eyelid. All the scrapie positive sheep were of the ARQ/ARQ, ARQ/AHQ or ARQ/VRQ genotypes. No significant differences in scrapie prevalence were observed among these genotypes. The estimated risk of the three targeted alleles was also similar, suggesting that in this breed the VRQ allele was not at higher risk for scrapie, compared to the ARQ and AHQ alleles.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 1, 2005
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