The transmissible spongiform encephalopathy scrapie of sheep/goats and chronic wasting disease of cervids are associated with environmental reservoirs of infectivity. Preventing environmental prions acting as a source of infectivity to healthy animals is of major concern to farms that have had outbreaks of scrapie and also to the health management of wild and farmed cervids. Here, an efficient scrapie decontamination protocol was applied to a farm with high levels of environmental contamination with the scrapie agent. Post-decontamination, no prion material was detected within samples taken from the farm buildings as determined using a sensitive in vitro replication assay (sPMCA). A bioassay consisting of 25 newborn lambs of highly susceptible prion protein genotype VRQ/VRQ introduced into this decontaminated barn was carried out in addition to sampling and analysis of dust samples that were collected during the bioassay. Twenty-four of the animals examined by immunohistochemical analysis of lymphatic tissues were scrapie-positive during the bioassay, samples of dust collected within the barn were positive by month 3. The data illustrates the difficulty in decontaminating farm buildings from scrapie, and demonstrates the likely contribution of farm dust to the recontamination of these environments to levels that are capable of causing disease.
- disease control
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Funding This study was funded by DEFRA within project SE1865.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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