1887

Abstract

In scrapie-affected sheep flocks, host genotype plays a vital role in determining which sheep will succumb to scrapie and the incubation period. Consequently, within-flock scrapie dynamics is best understood within the context of the genotype profile of the flock. Here we describe a 17 month epidemic of scrapie in a commercially farmed flock of 230 genotyped Texel sheep. At the start of the study, 70% of the sheep were of three genotypes only: ARR/ARQ, ARH/ARQ and ARQ/ARQ. Only 15% of sheep encoded the disease-associated VRQ allele and only a single sheep (0·4%) was of the most susceptible VRQ/VRQ genotype. For susceptible genotypes there was a marked deficit (<0·025) of older animals (⩾3 years), implying that some cases of scrapie had occurred previously. In the ensuing 17 months, 18 sheep of known genotype were confirmed positive for the disease: seven VRQ/ARQ, six VRQ/ARH, two VRQ/ARR, three ARQ/ARQ. Median ages at death were 2·7, 2·8, 4·2 and 3·8 years respectively. Mortality rates were 55, 86, 13 and 3% respectively. Survival analysis revealed a highly significant effect of genotype on survivorship, but no difference between VRQ/ARQ and VRQ/ARH, or between VRQ/ARR and ARQ/ARQ. There was no difference in the survivorship of middle- and older-age cohorts of susceptible sheep. Scrapie risk group (as defined by genotype) was not associated with submission as a scrapie suspect but later found to be negative, or with dying of unknown causes on the farm.

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2002-11-01
2019-10-23
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