Bovine encephalopathy

Mr Neville Steven Percy spbcnsp at ucl.ac.uk
Mon Apr 18 08:18:58 EST 1994

Tim Buss <tbuss at fred.fhcrc.org> writes:

>I believe that scrapie has been endemic in the British sheep population
>for a long time (more than 150-200 years). Does scrapie exist in
>Australian and New Zealand sheep, as I would have thought their animals
>would have originated in Britain.

I understand it was first sussed in Britain, but plenty of other countries 
developed it too (separately? -- they've named it differently).  The 
antipodeans make a big issue about being completely Scrapie-free, but 
then if they did have any little outbreaks they would be National 
Secrets, right?   (;> 

Incidentally, for all you fellow bionetters, since the BSE scare, the bottom 
has fallen out of the UK's Foetal_Calf_Serum industry too!

>Also, I believe that it is not just cows that became infected. Certain
>zoo animals fed infected meal have also died of BSE, as have cats from
>eating infected canned cat food (dogs also??). 

This is true, and Greater Kudu (ungulates most closely related to cows by
prion-protein homology) have been the worst affected.  Dogs seem to have
been in the clear, but there are currently ~10 cases of Feline Spongiform
Encephalopathy per year in the UK.

>I was told that the infective material (in brain pastes) isolated from
>cows differs from the original scrapie form. It is more infective and
>more resistant to high temperatures, so does anybody know how many
>different forms are out there? It seems a bit premature to assume humans
>are immune to this disease.

I don't think this about the resistance of the BSE particle versus the 
Scrapie particle is true...
There are, however, numerous strains of Scrapie with different characteristics
such as neuropathological localization, and incubation time in transmission 
studies.  The infectious protein model of prion diseases, which most people
are pretty much convinced by now, has a long way to go to explain these strain
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                                                   Nev Percy ; spbcnsp at ucl.ac.uk                

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