Selection of Swaledale sheep of reduced susceptibility to experimental scrapie
A flock of 294 Swaledale sheep was injected with brain tissue from different sources so as to include strains of natural scrapie currently affecting the Swaledale breed. Discounting intercurrent deaths, 85 per cent of the flock developed clinical scrapie within an observation period of 2557 days (seven years). Scrapie cases fell into distinct early and late groups, occurring at (mean +/- sem) 287 +/- 7 days and 1207 +/- 38 days after injection, respectively. Breeding groups were formed from the survivors after the early cases had occurred and successive lamb crops were produced. Two groups of progeny and two groups of controls were injected with scrapie. The incidence of scrapie in the progeny (27 per cent) was much lower than in the controls (64 per cent). The incidence in the progeny was also assessed in relation to the response of their parents: it was high (about 40 per cent) when one or both parents developed late scrapie but otherwise very low (about 5 per cent). Hence the progeny of surviving parents had a greatly reduced susceptibility to the strains of scrapie used. Seventy-two of these selected progeny formed a nucleus flock which is being bred at Redesdale. The next stage of the experiment is to assess the effect of selected rams in recorded flocks with a high incidence of natural scrapie.
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