Veterinary Record 146:455-461 doi:10.1136/vr.146.16.455
  • Papers & Articles

Descriptive epidemiology of scrapie in Great Britain: results of a postal survey

  1. A. R. McLean, PhD2
  1. 1 Epidemiology Department, Veterinary Laboratories Agency, New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB
  2. 2 Institute for Animal Health, Compton, Newbury RG20 7NN


In 1998, a questionnaire was sent to 11,554 British sheep farmers to determine how many believed that scrapie cases had occurred in their flock; 61.4 per cent of them responded anonymously. The results indicated that 14.9 per cent of farmers with more than 30 breeding ewes thought that they had ever experienced scrapie in their flock and 2.7 per cent thought that they had had cases in the past 12 months. A comparison of these results with the number of farmers reporting suspect scrapie cases to MAFF, in accordance with the statutory requirement, suggests that only 13 per cent of farmers who suspect that they may have cases of scrapie are currently reporting them. Scrapie occurred in all regions of the country but there was an apparent regional variation. Larger farms and those with purebred sheep appeared to be at greater risk of having cases. Other differences between affected and unaffected farms included lambing practices and sheep purchasing policy. On the majority of farms the first case occurred in a purchased animal. The survey also revealed a need for the provision of further information about scrapie to farmers.

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