News from the OIE Animal Health Information Department
Information received at the OIE Headquarters on 12 November 2004 from Dr.
Isabelle Chmitelin, Deputy Director General, General Directorate for Food
(DGAL),Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Rural Affairs, Paris:
Detection of an infective agent molecularly and biologically compatible
with that of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in a goat in France:
Date of the report: 2 November 2004.
The French network for typing strains in cases of scrapie detected within
the framework of the European Union surveillance programme has reported the
presence, in a goat slaughtered in 2002, of an infective agent molecularly
and biologically compatible with the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)
This network of seven French public sector research laboratories in FFrance
was set up in 2002. Its aim is to conduct research into the development of
analytical methods capable of discriminating between the BSE strain and the
natural scrapie strain in small ruminants.
Virtually all the positive isolates obtained from small ruminants with
scrapie detected through the various surveillance programmes established in
France since 1996 have undergone diagnostic testing. These consist of
first-line molecular tests, supplemented for samples considered to be
'atypical' by inoculation into transgenic mice, which is the reference test
to distinguish BSE from scrapie.
Scrapie cannot be confirmed until the end of the incubation period in mice -
a minimum of six months in the fastest strains of mice. Among these atypical
ssamples inoculated into mice, one sample presented suspicious
characteristics when the mice had reached the end of the incubation period.
The sample came from a goat aged two and a half years when it was
slaughtered in 2002. This goat was the only animal affected in its herd of
origin, which totalled 600 animals (300 adult goats in production and 300
young goats). The whole herd was culled and all the
adult goats were tested at that time, with negative results. All the
carcasses, including that of the affected goat, were destroyed.
Experimental studies still need to be carried out to determine the exact
nature of the pathogen. The data have also been sent to the Weybridge
laboratory in the United Kingdom.
OIE Animal Health Information Department
Even though the title of this article is disturbing, the tentative diagnosis is not all that unusual. There are several "atypical" TSE cases reported and under investigation around the world in sheep and goats. Since there are really no "standards" for diagnosing BSE in anything other than a bovine, atypical case tissue is being placed into mice for further diagnostic work.
Deputy Director of Policy
American Sheep Industry Association
phone: (304) 647-9981
fax: (304) 647-4778