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Evidence for the transmission of scrapie to sheep and goats from a vaccine against Mycoplasma agalactiae
  1. M. Caramelli, DVetMed, PhD1,
  2. G. Ru, DVetMed, PhD1,
  3. C. Casalone, DVetMed1,
  4. E. Bozzetta, DVetMed1,
  5. P. L. Acutis, DVetMed1,
  6. A. Calella, PharmChem, PhD2 and
  7. G. Forloni, BSc, PhD2
  1. 1 Centro per le Encefalopatie Animali, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Piemonte, Liguria e Valle d'Aosta, Via Bologna 148, 10154 Torino, Italy
  2. 2 Laboratorio di Biologia delle Malattie Neurodegenerative, Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche ‘Mario Negri’, Via Eritrea 62, 20157 Milano, Italy

Abstract

An accidental infection from a vaccine was suggested as the explanation for the sudden increase in outbreaks of scrapie in Italy in 1997 and 1998. This paper describes a recent outbreak of scrapie in sheep and goats which were exposed to the same vaccine. No ewes or goats had been imported into the herd since 1992, but a vaccine against Mycoplasma agalactiae had been administered twice, in 1995 and 1997. High rates of crude mortality and scrapie incidence were experienced by both species, all birth cohorts were involved and a large proportion of aged animals was affected. A pattern of brain lesions was observed, with slight differences between the sheep and goats, which was very similar to the pattern observed in animals previously exposed to the same vaccine but clearly different from that observed in the brains of sheep with scrapie in a flock not exposed to the vaccine. Regardless of their exposure status, genotype analysis of the sheep showed the presence of polymorphism only at codon 171. The patterns of both incidence and brain lesions provide evidence that the epidemic of scrapie was due to the use of the vaccine.

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