At a recent Canada- U.S. Consultative Committee on Agriculture meeting, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) stated that it may publish its comprehensive bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) rule (that would likely include the BSE provisions for small ruminants) as early as fall 2009. At the same time, the USDA announced that it will assess the scrapie controls in Canada and go through a separate rule-making process before trade in the full range of small ruminants and related products can be re-established.
Although Canada still does not yet have a definitive timeline for the full access of Canadian small ruminants into the U.S. market, the U.S. government does seem to be prepared to engage in the review necessary to open its border to sheep and goats sooner than previously thought.
This means Canada is going to have to make a decision about the future of its scrapie eradication plan sooner rather than later. There is a lot to consider and all players in the Canadian sheep and goat industries will be impacted.
Producer cooperation and involvement is vital if Canada wishes to fully achieve scrapie eradication. One of the biggest steps producers would be responsible for is monitoring for the disease. This means completing brain testing on any on-farm deads over one year of age. While discovering scrapie in a flock or herd is never a welcome experience for producers, monitoring for the disease is nonetheless a key component to moving national eradication forward.
Commitment from producers is also needed to ensure that they can recognize the clinical signs of scrapie. This means becoming educated on the disease enough so to notice it in your flock or herd. Producers can find out more information on scrapie by talking to their veterinarian, contacting Scrapie Canada or reading about it online at www.scrapiecanada.ca. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) website also has a lot of valuable information on scrapie. This information is posted at: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/anima/disemala/scrtre/scrtree.shtml
Scrapie is a very serious disease that can be in a flock or herd for a long, long time before it is recognized. To advance national eradication, it is critical that producers commit to reporting any and all suspected cases of scrapie on their farm to the CFIA as soon as they are recognized.
An open dialogue between producers and industry is another important component to achieving national scrapie eradication in Canada. Producers should communicate with their provincial and national sheep and goat associations, staying up to date on all matters related to eradication. Producers can also contact Scrapie Canada by phone or e-mail with questions or concerns. Scrapie Canada posts monthly updates on its website at the following link: http://www.scrapiecanada.ca/whatsnew.html and many of the provincial associations have information related to scrapie on their websites as well.
Canadian sheep and goat producers’ role in full eradication is crucial and irreplaceable. Producers are the most important defense against scrapie because they see the disease first on the farm and have the opportunity to stop it before it goes any further. Producers will need to consider whether or not they are willing to offer their time and efforts to a national scrapie eradication plan because without their involvement, any plan that is developed will be unsuccessful. It is only by working together that full scrapie eradication will be achieved.
For more information, please contact Scrapie Canada at 1-866-534-1302 or firstname.lastname@example.org