Scrapie Canada is pleased to announce the official start of its next project.
This three year, industry driven project will support the development and implementation of a National Scrapie Prevalence Study and support the continuation of the Scrapie Flock Certification Program (SFCP).
The goal of National Scrapie Prevalence Study is to determine scrapie prevalence in the Canadian sheep flock. The national goat herd is not included in the prevalence portion of study at this time but project developers are working with the industry to ensure their inclusion at a future date.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) – who is partnering on the project – will collect and test 15,000 brain and lymph node samples from mature sheep slaughtered in abattoirs across Canada. This sample size was based on a statistically valid percentage of the Canadian ewe flock as of 2008.
The intention is to accurately represent the geographical distribution of the sheep population in Canada, therefore, all large, and most medium, adult sheep slaughtering facilities are included in the project. Samples will be collected from different abattoirs on different days, which will be determined randomly. Final results of the study will be compiled by CFIA and analyzed with assistance from experts from the University of Guelph.
With the completion of the prevalence study, the Canadian Sheep Federation (CSF) anticipates the establishment of a clear time frame in which scrapie can be eradicated from Canada. Once eradication has been achieved, the OIE requires a further seven-year scrapie free monitoring period prior to Canada being able to declare itself free from scrapie.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have already conducted a national slaughter surveillance study and established national and regional scrapie prevalence. The U.S. implemented the first phase of their accelerated national scrapie eradication program in 2001 and is working to be recognized as scrapie free by 2017. The Canadian sheep and goat industries have been working to harmonize with the U.S. on scrapie related issues to remove trade barriers that currently exist. Completing the scrapie prevalence study and working towards scrapie eradication is in line with the strategy currently undertaken by the U.S.
The continuation of the SFCP allows elite flocks / herds in Canada to gain status and international recognition as scrapie free establishments. In the future these flocks may become internationally recognized as a scrapie free compartment ahead of the eradication of scrapie from Canada as a whole.
Canadian sheep and goat producers enrolled on this program are required to work with a scrapie accredited veterinarian, close their flocks/ herds and complete annual scrapie monitoring and surveillance. Participation on the SFCP also should allow producers to access to international trading partners, including the U.S.
The following new subsidies will be available for enrolled producers:
Benefits to the Industry
As mentioned above, the completion of a National Scrapie Prevalence Study and continuing support of the SFCP allows Canada to progress towards scrapie eradication and continue to harmonize with the U.S. to remove trade barriers that currently exist.
Full scrapie eradication will save the Canadian agriculture government and industries millions of dollars annually. Reports out of the U.S. have indicated that scrapie costs the country approximately $20 million per year.
The reduction and elimination of scrapie from Canada will also reduce, or prevent, the destruction and disposal of scrapie infected flocks/herds, which are costly and present animal welfare concerns to the Canadian livestock sector and public.
Funding for this project is provided through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) AgriFlexibility program. Opinions expressed in this document are those of the CSF and not necessarily those of AAFC.