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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Resistance of Domestic Cats to Us Sheep Scrapie Agent by the Intracerebral Route

Authors
item Hamir, Amirali
item Clark, Wilber - APHIS, HELENA, MT
item Sutton, Diane - NAHPS-APHIS, RIVERDALE MD
item Miller, Janice
item Stack, Mick - VET LABS, WEYBRIDGE, UK
item Chaplin, Melanie - VET LABS, WEYBRIDGE, UK
item Jenny, Allen - NVSL-APHIS, AMES IA

Submitted to: Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 1, 2002
Publication Date: November 1, 2002

Interpretive Summary: Scrapie is a fatal neurologic disease of sheep and goats. Feline spongiform encephalopathy (FSE) is a similar disease of domestic and wild cats and both scrapie and FSE are classified as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) or prion diseases. FSE first appeared in the United Kingdom in the 1990s during the epizootic of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) and is thought to have resulted from consumption of food contaminated with BSE. Mad cow disease is believed to result from the consumption of food contaminated with scrapie. There is, however, no direct experimental documentation to indicate that the scrapie agent is capable of causing disease in cats. During 1979 six cats ranging in age from 3.5 to 18 months were inoculated with sheep scrapie, and were observed for an extended period (6 months to 9 years). None of the inoculated cats developed neurologic disease, and lesions of TSE were not seen in their brains. Also, other laboratory tests failed to detect the TSE agent in their brains. These results indicate that the sheep scrapie agent present in 1979 in the United States was not capable of causing disease in cats. Impact: The US sheep scrapie agent does not cause FSE in cats.

Technical Abstract: Scrapie of sheep and goats, and feline spongiform encephalopathy (FSE) of domestic and wild cats are fatal neurologic diseases that are classified as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) or prion diseases. FSE first appeared in the United Kingdom in the 1990s during the epizootic of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), and is thought to have resulted from consumption of food contaminated with BSE. The latter is believed to result from the consumption of food contaminated with scrapie. There is, however, no direct experimental documentation to indicate that the scrapie agent is capable of amplifying in cats, and therefore, crossing the species barrier. During 1979 six cats ranging in age from 3.5 to 18 months were intracerebrally inoculated with sheep scrapie, and were observed for an extended period (6 months to 9 years). Inoculated cats did not develop neurologic disease, and microscopic lesions of spongiform encephalopathy were not evident. Immunohistochemistry and Western blot techniques failed to detect PrPres. These results indicate that the sheep scrapie agent present in 1979 in the United States was not capable of amplification in cats and thus was unable to cross the species barrier to produce FSE.

Last Modified: 7/23/2014
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