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Results of a postal survey of scrapie in the Shetland Islands in 2003
  1. S. Gubbins, BSc, PhD1,
  2. A. M. Clark, BVMS, CertSHP, MRCVS, SAC2,
  3. R. D. Eglin, BSc1 and
  4. S. K. Sivam, BVSc, CertCHP, MSc, MBA, MRCVS1
  1. 1Centre for Epidemiology and Risk Analysis, Veterinary Laboratories Agency, New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB
  2. 2Veterinary Services, Janetstown, Thurso KW14 7XF

Abstract

In February 2003, a postal survey of 1279 sheep farmers in the Shetland Islands yielded 586 responses (46 per cent response rate). The principal aim of the survey was to gather information on the history and control of scrapie. Overall, 28·5 per cent of the respondents thought they had had a case of scrapie in their flock at some time. There was a slow increase in the proportion of affected flocks during the 1970s, followed by a more rapid increase during the 1980s and early 1990s, and a decline from the mid-1990s onwards. The peak proportion of affected flocks was approximately 6 per cent in 1994. Of the farmers who had ever had scrapie in their flock, 97·1 per cent had attempted to control the disease. The most common method of control was breeding from non-susceptible tups, used by 90·6 per cent of the affected flocks and 75·1 per cent of the flocks that had never been affected. A comparison of the characteristics of the affected and unaffected flocks indicated that an increased risk of scrapie was associated with the larger flocks, the open flocks and the flocks that bought in lambs. The basic reproduction ratio for the spread of scrapie between flocks was estimated to be 1·47, and the mean duration of an outbreak within a flock was estimated to be approximately two years.

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      Footnotes

      • Dr Gubbins’s present address is Institute for Animal Health, Ash Road, Pirbright, Surrey GU24 0NF

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