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National Reference Laboratory for TSEs in small ruminants (scrapie) and in wild cervids

In 2009, twelve scrapie outbreaks in sheep were confirmed, these were all individual cases of atypical scrapie. Since the implementation of the scrapie surveillance programm in 2002, 297 cases of scrapie have been diagnosed in sheep and no case in goats. According to regulation (EG) Nr. 727/2007, 10.000 healthy slaughtered and 10.000  fallen stock sheep were analysed using rapid test that have been approved for the TSE surveillance in small ruminants. The NRL assisted in these analyses by specified support of the 18 state and private rapid test laboratories, by reports in the frame of national and international approvals of TSE rapid tests, by official batch controls as well as by the organisation of ring trials with the laboratories using these tests.

Samples that give a TSE suspicious result in the rapid test are analysed using OIE approved methods. The accreditationa according to ISO 17 025 serves as an internal quality approval measure, as an external control measure, the NRL participates in ring trials for the rapid tests, the confirmatory tests, as well as the discriminatory tests (see below) that are organized by the CRL.

Moreover, all TSE positive samples in small ruminants have to be tested further with discriminatory methods according to regulation (EG) Nr. 214/2005 in order to detect a possible BSE infection. For this, the FLI test, that has been established in-house and validated by the CRL, has been applied. All cases diagnosed in 2008 were classified as atypical scrapie. The result of this discriminatory test has been forwarded to the sending institution in due time, as this can have important implications on the applied control measures. Based on the knowledge about the genetic scrapie resistance and its importance for the scrapie control, the genotype of all confirmed TSE cases were determined in collaboration with the department of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Justus-Liebig University of Giessen.  The NRL is in close scientific contact with the NRLs of the other EU member states as well as with the CRL at the VLA in Weybridge, UK. This includes the participation at the annual meetings of all NRLs and the active cooperation with the strain typing expert group (STEG) of the CRL.

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