Food Law News - UK - 2005

Defra Press Release (58/05), 8 February 2005

BSE - Possible BSE in a 1990 UK Goat Sample

Scientists at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency have informed Defra that a goat, confirmed as having scrapie in 1990, may have had BSE.

More sensitive testing methods have found the sample had traits similar to samples from goats experimentally infected with BSE. Further tests will now be carried out.

The VLA made the finding following the recent case of BSE in a goat from France . The VLA had been checking whether methods developed to discriminate between scrapie and BSE in sheep could also differentiate these diseases in a goat.

The goat appears to have originated from premises in Scotland ; investigations have revealed that the original keeper is no longer in business at these premises.

The single result, using just one test method, is insufficient to confirm that the goat had BSE, and further rapid molecular methods to discriminate BSE and scrapie cannot be applied because no frozen tissues are available.

Researchers from the VLA have been asked to carry out tests to follow up these initial findings. Further work will now need to be performed and this will take 1-2 years, at the earliest, to complete.

Defra's Chief Veterinary Officer, Debby Reynolds, said: "It is important to put this initial finding into context. It dates back to 1990 which was at the height of the BSE outbreak in cattle and before the reinforced feed ban was introduced in 1996. This means that there is a distinct possibility that the animal, if infected with BSE, was exposed to contaminated feed.

"In light of the recent case of BSE in a goat from France , the European Commission says it is important to perform increased surveillance on goats on a European-wide basis to establish the current incidence of TSEs in the goat population. In line with this, Defra will be stepping up its TSE surveillance programme for goats."

Defra will be asking the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee for their comments on this finding at their meeting on the 3 March.

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