Scrapie is a fatal disease that affects the central nervous system of sheep and goats. It is classified as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). While the exact cause of scrapie is unknown, it is thought to be associated with the presence of an abnormal form of a protein called a prion.
Other countries, including the USA and Great Britain, are already working to reduce the incidence of scrapie and eventually eradicate it from their flocks. In order to remain competitive and maintain market access, it is in Canada's best interest to increase resistance to scrapie and to establish prevalence of this disease so that it does not become a trade barrier in the future.
The Canadian Food and Inspection Agency (CFIA) and several provincial agricultural ministries have launched a surveillance program to detect scrapie in the national sheep flock and goat herd. The goal of this program is to identify infected animals in Canada to ensure that proper steps can be taken to completely eradicate the disease from our country. General requirements include reporting deads on farm over the age of 12 months and complete brain testing.
Enhanced Scrapie Surveillance
Alberta Lamb Producers worked with the provincial government for a number of years in developing scrapie surveillance programs to provide international import and export opportunities for producers. Read more about the Alberta surveillance programs.
Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program (VSFCP)
The SFCP National Standards were developed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), in collaboration with the sheep industry, as the basis for Canada’s on-farm, voluntary scrapie control program. It is intended to be a long-term, internationally recognized flock/herd scrapie control program for the sheep and goat industries. This program is unique as a CFIA approved disease control strategy. The CFIA only provides a guiding hand in ensuring that the program retains key requirements to meet international standards. The day-to-day management and verification is placed in the hands of industry.
National Genotyping Survey
On March 31, 2009 the National Survey of Scrapie Genetics in Canadian Purebred Sheep came to a close after three and a half successful years. Also known as the National Genotyping Survey, the project was an initiative that involved a number of Canadian sheep industry groups including the Canadian Sheep Federation (CSF) and the Canadian Sheep Breeders’ Association (CSBA).
In total, about 9,300 Canadian purebred sheep were genotype tested through the National Genotyping Survey. Taking into consideration both data sets- national and provincial- the total number of farms and sheep with genotypes in the NSAC database was 18,966 sheep from 496 farms as of March 31, 2009.
In Alberta 5,245 sheep on 71 farms were genotyped.
For more information visit Scrapie Canada, National Genotyping Survey.