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Diseases - Scrapie - Guidance

Scrapie Guidance

This Scrapie guidance is available as a PDF

Scrapie is a fatal brain disease of sheep and goats. It became a notifiable disease in 1993. Scrapie is not known to pose a risk to human health.

  • Classical scrapie has been present in the UK for over 250 years. With classical scrapie, most animals are infected through exposure to scrapie-infected sheep and their environment. Clinical signs of disease appear some years after infection, and cases generally appear singly. Disease is most commonly seen between two and five years of age.
  • Atypical scrapie has been detected in recent years, primarily through the testing programme for fallen stock and abattoir culls, using new tests. However, retrospective studies have indicated that it was present in the UK since at least the late 1980s. The route of infection is poorly understood and the disease is most commonly seen in animals over five years of age.

There is a risk that sheep and goats were exposed to the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) agent in contaminated feed, particularly before the ban on feeding mammalian meat and bone meal was reinforced in 1996. Natural BSE has been confirmed in a goat. Experiments show that sheep are susceptible to BSE. Both scrapie and BSE are transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) and the clinical signs of scrapie are similar to those of BSE.

What you must do if you suspect scrapie

You are legally obliged to report immediately any animal that you suspect of being affected with scrapie to Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA). This applies to animals in your possession or under your control at farms, markets, slaughterhouses or other places. You may wish to take advice from your private veterinary surgeon who will contact APHA if they suspect scrapie.

IF IN DOUBT, TELEPHONE YOUR LOCAL APHA OFFICE OR THE INFORMATION LINE 0844 8844600. THERE IS NO CHARGE. APHA would rather visit for a false alarm than not be called out.