Scrapie Surveillance: Eradicating scrapie from Canada

The facts about scrapie

Scrapie is a fatal disease that affects the central nervous system of sheep and goats.

It is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). Other TSEs include bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle and chronic wasting disease in deer and elk.

Scrapie is a "federally reportable disease" in Canada. That means all suspected cases must be reported to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

The scrapie surveillance program

The goal of the scrapie surveillance program is to identify infected animals, so that proper steps can be taken to eradicate the disease from Canada.

Through the program, samples are collected for testing. These samples are collected at farms, auction markets, animal health laboratories, deadstock facilities and slaughter facilities.

Scrapie surveillance is a shared responsibility. Sheep and goat producers, industry, veterinarians and governments all have a role to play.

Benefits to sheep and goat producers

In order to remain competitive and maintain market access for sheep, goats and related products, it is in Canada's best interest to eradicate scrapie.

Eradicating scrapie will help to preserve the health of the national sheep flock and goat herd. It will also reduce the economic and animal welfare impacts of scrapie detections.

Having an animal tested

The CFIA would like to test any mature animals (aged 12 months and older) that die on your farm or exhibit the following symptoms:

  • unexplained weight loss
  • problems standing or walking
  • changes in behaviour

To make arrangements to have a sample taken for testing, call the nearest CFIA office.

You can arrange to drop the sample off yourself, or have a CFIA inspector come to your farm to collect the sample.

You will be responsible for disposing of the animal's carcass using an approved method. On-farm disposal must comply with provincial and municipal waste management requirements.

Compensation

Compensation may be available for live animals ordered destroyed by the CFIA.

For more details on the compensation process, please see the CFIA brochure Animal Health Compensation: What to expect when an animal is ordered destroyed.

Scrapie surveillance levels

To maintain scrapie surveillance testing levels, the CFIA works closely with the sheep and goat industries, veterinarians and provinces and territories.

Producer participation is critical to the success of the scrapie surveillance program and, ultimately, to eradicating the disease from Canada.

Keeping your animals healthy

Sheep with certain genetic types are less likely to become infected with scrapie. Blood tests can determine the genetic profile of a sheep. To minimize the risk of scrapie in your sheep flock, you may consider using selective breeding.

Because females spread the disease to their offspring during birth, you may also want to restrict introducing females to your sheep flock or goat herd.

The following biosecurity practices are also recommended:

  • properly identify all animals
  • keep good records on animal health and movement
  • separate females from other animals during birthing
  • maintain a clean birthing environment
  • properly dispose of afterbirths, the bodies of stillbirths (or early deaths) and bedding associated with lambing/kidding
  • thoroughly disinfect equipment with a disinfectant appropriate for scrapie
  • avoid using equipment on multiple animals that can spread bodily fluids from one animal to another (for example, needles)
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