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European agency reports on chronic wasting disease, TSE cases

A European Union summary report on the monitoring of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) has been published by the European Food Safety Authority.

TSEs are a group of diseases that affect the brain and nervous system of humans and animals. These include scrapie, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), and chronic wasting disease (CWD). With the exception of classical BSE, there is no scientific evidence that TSEs can be transmitted to humans.

“Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was confirmed for the first time in Europe in 2016, in Norway, where out of a total of 10,139 tested cervids five cases were reported: three in wild reindeer and two in moose,” according to the report.

“During the same period, 2,712 cervids were tested in seven different (member states) and all were found negative. Most of the tested cervids, 90 percent, were reported by Romania.”

The report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) provides results on data collected by all EU member states, plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland for 2016.

Main findings include:

  • 5 cases of BSE in cattle out of 1.35 million animals tested in the EU – none of which entered the food chain. Only one of these was classified as classical BSE. The animal was born after enforcement of the EU ban on the use of animal proteins began in 2001.
  • 685 cases of scrapie in sheep out of 286,351 animals tested; and
  • 634 in goats out of 110,832 tested in the EU.

No cases of CWD were found in any of the 2,712 cervids tested, including reindeer, elk and moose, in the EU. However, five cases of CWD were reported in Norway: three in wild reindeer and two in moose.

Titled “EUSR on Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies in 2016,” the report abstract says it presents the results of surveillance activities on transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) in bovine animals, sheep, goats, cervids and other species, as well as genotyping data in sheep, carried out in 2016 in the European Union according to Regulation (EC) 999/2001, and in Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. In 2016, 1,352,585 bovine animals were tested in the European Union, which is 5 percent less than in 2015.

Sheep scrapie was reported by 20 member states in a total of 685 animals. Nine member states reported 634 cases of goat scrapie. A total of 25 ovine scrapie cases were reported by Iceland and Norway. At the EU level, the occurrence of scrapie in small ruminants remains stable, with 1,175 cases of classical scrapie reported and 135 atypical scrapie cases.

A total of 97.2 percent of the classical scrapie cases in sheep occurred in animals with genotypes belonging to the susceptible group, and a random sampling showed that 26.6 percent of the genotyped sheep held genotypes of the susceptible group, excluding Cyprus.

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