Saturday, April 4, 2009

New Test for Scrapie in Goats

Considered a "minor" species, goats have long gotten short shrift when it comes to disease research. That is gradually changing, no doubt because goat meat is catching on as a food in this country. The Agriculture News Service reports on a new test for scrapie in goats, as well as research findings regarding genetic resistance and susceptibility.

Scrapie is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (related to "mad cow" disease and chronic wasting disease in deer). While it is a horrible disease, and can take two to five years after infection to show clinical signs, it is not exactly a big problem in US goats. Only 21 goats had ever been diagnosed with scrapie, as of the beginning of 2009. Not exactly an epidemic, unlike caprine arthritis encephalitis virus (or CAEV, the goat form of HIV).

I really wish that USDA would put their money into researching genetic resistance of CAEV in goats. CAEV was first discovered in 1974 and in the 1980s more than 80% of goats were found to be infected. Since then, despite the failure of management programs to eradicate it in US goats, that figure has changed to between 10% and 30% infected.

You can find more on scrapie and CAEV in Goat Health Care.

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