A new study has revealed that Finnish sheep have low levels of genetic resistance to classical scrapie, a fatal neurological disease that affects sheep and goats.
The research, released by the Finnish Food Safety Authority, was based on tests on 16,000 sheep in Finland between 2002 and 2008. No actual cases of classical scrapie were found, but the sheep were found to have little resistance to the disease, which belongs to the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) group of diseases.
“The results indicate that Finnish sheep have genetically little resistance to classical scrapie. The majority of the studied sheep were shown to have a genotype that confers only little resistance to classical scrapie, whereas only 5% of the studied sheep populations at the most were shown to have the most resistant genotype to classical scrapie,” said the report.
It added that five cases of atypical scrapie were found during testing, suggesting the disease – which is also a TSE, but differs from classical scrapie in its neuropathological and biochemical features – was present at a low level amongst Finnish sheep.