Scrapie is a fatal, degenerative disease that affects the brain, muscles, and central nervous system of sheep and goats. The disease is believed to be caused by an abnormal protein, known as a prion, which acts as the infectious and contagious agent. Scrapie is likely spread from mother to offspring and/or other herd/flock members through contact with afterbirth. Sheep or goats infected with the disease may exhibit behavioral changes due to damaged nerve cells. These signs progress until the animal dies. There is currently no cure or treatment for scrapie.
Minnesota is part of a nationwide program to eliminate scrapie across the United States. As part of the scrapie Eradication Program, anyone who buys or sells sheep or goats in Minnesota is required to register with the Board. In addition, all sheep and goats must be officially identified when they leave the farm and before they are commingled with sheep or goats from other flocks or herds. Official identification is important because it makes it possible to trace a diseased or exposed animal to its flock of origin where disease control strategies can be implemented.
The Scrapie Eradication Program consists of the following components:
- Identification of infected sheep or goats through nationwide slaughter surveillance
- Tracing of infected animals to their flock or herd of origin
- Quarantine and testing of exposed animals sold from an infected or source flock or herd
- Voluntary genetic testing of sheep to determine susceptibility to scrapie
Producers may register their herd/flock by contacting the Board at (651) 201-6809.