BSE crossover to sheep unlikely

10 August 2000

BSE crossover to sheep ‘unlikely’

By FWi staff

BSE is unlikely to have crossed from cattle into sheep to any extent, claim the authors of a new report.

Researchers from the Institute for Animal Health in Berkshire addressed concerns that sheep could have been infected by BSE-contaminated feed.

In a report in the journal Nature the group acknowledges that although so far no cases of BSE in sheep have been found, these may have been misdiagnosed as scrapie.

But analysing data describing the historical changes in scrapie incidence the group found no evidence for a peak in scrapie before, during or after the BSE outbreak.

It concludes this means that it is unlikely that a substantial epidemic of BSE has occurred in the sheep population.

This comes as agriculture officials in the USA press for the slaughter of two flocks of sheep they claim may have BSE.

British experts are sceptical about these claims saying there are no reliable tests to distinguish scrapie from BSE.

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