Scrapie found in Alberta sheep

A case of scrapie, a fatal disease affecting sheep and goats, has been confirmed in an Alberta sheep.

Alberta Lamb Producers said today that the disease was confirmed in late June in a sheep that had lived on multiple premises. Two Alberta flocks have now been quarantined. Their location was not disclosed.

Scrapie is a reportable disease and a type of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy in the same broad category as BSE. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is now investigating.

The disease is not new to Canada. Two cases were confirmed in Manitoba goats in 2018 and nine incidents in sheep and goats were reported in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Quebec in 2017. Other cases have been found in years before that as well.

Canada has a national scrapie eradication program and has been working to eliminate the disease through surveillance, controlling it on farms where it is detected and providing support for a scrapie flock certification program.

The CFIA has a protocol for dealing with infected animals. It includes investigation, testing, destruction and disposal of infected animals, followed by disinfection. Compensation may be provided to owners whose animals are ordered destroyed as a result of the investigation.

Scrapie has a long incubation period, which can allow infected animals to spread the illness before it is detected.

Symptoms vary but can include behavioural changes such as aggression, tremors and abnormal gait. Infected animals pose no health risk to humans.

Contact barb.glen@producer.com

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