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Case of Scrapie in North Iceland

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Case of Scrapie in North Iceland

Icelandic sheep

Photo: Zoë Robert.

A case of scrapie has been confirmed at a farm in Skagafjörður. Scrapie is a fatal, degenerative disease, which affects the nervous systems of sheep and goats. This is the fourth confirmed case of scrapie in Northwest Iceland since February of 2015. That year, no case had been reported since 2010. Mast, the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority, is currently collecting data and preparing a course of action.

Last week, the farmer of Brautarholt in Skagafjörður suspected a case of scrapie and contacted the district’s veterinarian. The sheep was slaughtered and a specimen sent to the University of Iceland’s Institute for Experimental Pathology at Keldur, which confirmed that the animal had been affected with scrapie. Cases of the disease have come up on eleven farms in Skagafjörður in the past two decades. Sheep had to be slaughtered at the farm Brautarholt in 1987, due to scrapie. The farm currently has 290 sheep.

Until 2010, cases of scrapie were confirmed on a few farms in the country every year, but no cases were reported 2011-2014. Mast stresses that even though such cases are rare, we must constantly be on guard against the disease. Every year, samples are collected from about 3,000 sheep at slaughterhouses. Farmers have also been encouraged to send the heads of sheep killed by accident or disease to Keldur for examination.

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