Scrapie in Goats and Sheep

Episode 45
For the Love of Goats

Scrapie in Goats and Sheep

 
 


 

If you ever wanted to sell your goats or sheep to someone in another country, then you are already familiar with the US’s problem with scrapie. It’s not a huge problem, but having anything more than zero cases for seven years means that most countries will not allow our sheep and goats to be imported into their country.

In this episode, I am talking to Charles Gaiser, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, who is a sheep and goat epidemiologist with the USDA, APHIS (Animal Plant Health Inspection Service), VS (Veterinary Services), RHC (Ruminant Health Center), Small Ruminant Health Team, and we are talking about scrapie, which is a spongiform encephalopathy similar to “mad cow disease” but in goats and sheep.

Because we have animals in the US with this disease, breeders can only sell goats and sheep to other countries if they have a herd or flock that is certified scrapie free, which takes seven years of testing and surveillance.

Every time I get an inquiry from someone in another country who wants to buy my goats, I have to say no because my flock is not certified free of scrapie. I’ve thought about enrolling, but then I just keep hoping that the US can go seven years without any cases. I got really excited in 2019 when I heard that we had gone three years with no positive cases of scrapie! But then there was another one, so that resets the national clock back to zero.

In this episode, we are talking about the disease, the symptoms, testing, and what you can do to get your herd certified free of scrapie and sell goats internationally.

After our interview, Dr. Gaiser sent me this additional information:

As we work to eradicate scrapie and find the last few cases in the US we are testing more and more goats through surveillance.  First we emphasized surveillance testing in sheep particularly black faced sheep because they had a higher disease prevalence. We have tested some goats since the start of the program, ramped up testing slaughtered goats in 2012 and are continuing to increase our surveillance in goats.  As an example in Fiscal year 2020 (I Oct 2019-30 Sep 2020) we tested 25,682 sheep and 6,571 goats through our scrapie surveillance program.  Even with the smaller number of goats tested, two of the last three classical scrapie infected flocks/herds found were by tracing scrapie positive goats found on slaughter surveillance.

In addition USDA Veterinary Services has been working with USDA Agricultural Research Services (ARS) to identify genotypes (genetics) that are resistant to scrapie in goats. Veterinary Services has conducted genetic testing to identify what the prevalence of the resistance genetics are in the US Goat population so that the goat industry would have another tool in their toolbox to control scrapie.  Current research shows that three genotypes S146 or D146 (Serine or Aspartic acid at amino acid 146) and K222 (Lysine at amino acid 222) demonstrate a level of resistance to classical scrapie in goats.

Here are some links that may be helpful ADGA Scrapie Resistant Variants :ARS goat-scrapie-resistance.pdf (usda.gov) ; Breeding Resistance to Scrapie in Goats – Backyard Goats (iamcountryside.com) written by ARS; Tellus | | USDA-ARS

As we said on the podcast most sheep and goats are infected with scrapie at birth and will normally develop the clinical neurologic signs of disease between 2 to 5 years of age.  Once clinical signs develop they will normally die within 1-6 months.

For more information

  • Main USDA Sheep and Goat Webpage:

USDA APHIS | Sheep and Goat Health

  • National Scrapie Eradication Program (NSEP) Webpage:

USDA APHIS | National Scrapie Eradication Program

  • NSEP Standards:

Microsoft Word – nsep_program_standards 2019 final.doc (usda.gov)

  • Designated scrapie epidemiologists in each state for questions on scrapie:

Official Designated Scrapie Epidemiologists and Local Points of Contact List (usda.gov)

  • To request official sheep and goat tags, a flock or premises ID or both, call 1-866-USDA-Tag (866-873-2824).  Free tags can be provided if producer has not received free tags in the past 5 years or as an incentive for providing scrapie surveillance samples from their animals.
  • SFCP Webpage:

USDA APHIS | Free Flock Certification Program

  • SFCP Standards:

standards_current.pdf (usda.gov)

Listen right here by clicking on the player above, or on your favorite platform:

Scrapie in Goats and Sheep Scrapie in Goats and SheepScrapie in Goats and Sheep

TRANSCRIPT

Deborah Niemann 0:18
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode. I am very excited to be joined today by Charles Gaiser, who is with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services, Ruminant Health Center, and Small Ruminant Health Team. And I think that makes him the person with the longest title that I’ve ever interviewed on my show. So, welcome to the show!

Charles Gaiser 0:44
Thank you for inviting me, Deborah.

Deborah Niemann 0:47
So today we are talking about something that’s really, incredibly, super important. And I would venture to say that a lot of people don’t even know about this, and that is the disease Scrapie, and why it’s important to us, and what we need to do about it. So, can you first just explain: What is Scrapie? And why do we need to care?

Charles Gaiser 1:10
Okay, well, Scrapie is one of the prion diseases, and a prion disease are diseases such as mad cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy. Also, CWD, Chronic Wasting Disease, and all of these diseases are thought to be caused by a prion, which is a misfolded protein. It’s still considered to be a theory, but I think almost everyone agrees that that is the cause. And what happens is, this is a normal protein in the brain, and, for some reason, when it’s exposed to another prion that is misfolded, and it causes disease, they start to change in their shape. And when they change in their shape, they can no longer be broken down easily by the body. And they start to accumulate, and they form vacuoles or holes within the brain, which leads to the name “transmissible spongiform encephalopathy.” So, it’s one of a group of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, or TSEs. Scrapie is thought to be one of the oldest of the TSEs. Probably going back—we’ve seen literature from the 1700s in the UK which described the disease.

Charles Gaiser 2:23
So, the problem with the disease: It’s very slow and insidious to develop. It may take anywhere from 2 to 5 years to develop once an animal is exposed. For Scrapie, they’re primarily exposed at birth. So the majority of the cases we see were exposed as lambs at birth—probably greater than 90% of the cases. They can be exposed later in life, in which case they won’t show symptoms until they get much older, probably 7 or 8 years of age. The problem with the disease is it’s very resistant; it is insidious; it can spread within a flock or herd; but you don’t hear about it until it’s years later. Right now, the only two countries in the world that are considered to be free of Scrapie are Australia and New Zealand. And that helps those two countries in their export market, because they’re free of the disease. Many restrictions on movement of animals—including those coming into the United States—from countries with Scrapie are in place because of the disease of Scrapie. So one of the reasons we want to eradicate it is to increase our ability to export animals throughout the world, which would also increase the value of our animals.

Deborah Niemann 3:41
The reason I know about Scrapie is because, very early on, my daughters wanted to show goats, and if you’re going to show goats, you have to have a health certificate. And to get a health certificate, you need a Scrapie ID. And so, we were probably… I think we were about three years into goats when I realized that. And, you know, the people who put the shows together are happy to explain it all to you, what you need to do. But, so many people just don’t even know what Scrapie is, or that they should have a Scrapie ID. And there are two programs in the U.S. There’s the voluntary program and the mandatory program. So, let’s talk about the two different programs, because I’m sure a lot of people listening have gotten calls or emails from people in other countries who wanted to buy goats, and you had to say, “I’m sorry, I can’t sell them to you because I don’t have a Certified Scrapie Free Flock.” Which I could totally have. You know, if I would have—15 years ago—I would have said, “I’m going to go for this Certified Scrapie Free thing,” I could totally have a certified flock now and be exporting all over the world. But I don’t, so I can’t. So, tell us a little bit about the difference between those two programs, and the importance of IDs for your herds.

Charles Gaiser 4:54
Let’s go with the shortest one first. And that would be the voluntary program. The voluntary program is Scrapie Free Flock Certification Program; we commonly call that the SFCP. There are two different categories within that program. And that is a Select category and the Export, Monitored, or Certified category. Both of those categories allow folks to have their names and information posted on our APHIS USDA web page, where folks can purchase animals from flocks that are in the program, or herds that are in the program. And you’ll hear me talk about “flocks” commonly, because initially Scrapie was introduced into this country probably in the Blackface sheep imports from the UK. And those animals were thought to have a much higher prevalence of Scrapie. And so, initially, we were geared towards collecting as many Blackface sheep as we could to identify the prevalence of the disease in our country, and to find out where the disease was geographically within a country. And then we expanded that to include all face colors for sheep. And lastly, we’ve expanded that to goats. So goats—we’ve really only been actively seeking surveillance samples from goats for the last few years. So the SFCP program has those two categories; one of them, the Select category, is very simple to get in to. Basically, you sign up for it, and based upon the size of your herd or the size of your flock, you agree to provide a sample on a certain period, from every 1 to 3 years, depending on the size of your herd. And what we’re talking about with samples, we’re talking about if an animal dies, or if an animal has to be necropsied, or dies from another disease, or whatever, we can get samples from that animal and have it tested for Scrapie. You can have those samples picked up by regulatory personnel, VS—Veterinary Services—or the state regulatory personnel, or an accredited veterinarian. Or we even have a program, if the producer wants to and is comfortable, they can have the head removed and sent in to our collection site in Remington, Indiana, to have the Scrapie samples collected for surveillance. That is a simple program. And again, all you have to do is just agree to identify your animals, keep records, and to provide samples on a specified time period.

Charles Gaiser 7:29
The complicated and more difficult program is the Export, Monitored, or Certified program. You have to have seven years of status in that program. In other words, if you’re starting from scratch, and you want to have your goat herd certified as an Export program, it takes you seven years being in that program to meet the requirements. And the requirements have a long list. As I said, they’re complicated, and they’re difficult. So it’s not something that someone would sign up for without being able to meet all the requirements. You have to meet the same requirements as far as records, official ID of animals over 12 months of age, or after they kid, or after they leave the herd. You also would have to have all of your culls inspected by an accredited veterinarian or regulatory veterinarian before they are culled or leave your premises to verify that they do not have any signs—or clinical signs—of Scrapie. You would have to provide samples from all animals that are found dead or that have clinical signs of Scrapie. And the clinical signs of Scrapie… Since it’s a brain disease, and it causes damage to the brain, the signs you would see would be gradually occurring over a period of time, and you would see an animal that would slowly start losing weight; they might start showing some ataxia or loss of balance; they may have stargazing; lipsmacking; and, of course, the typical sign is scraping. And they would itch or scrape against poles. In sheep that’s easy to see when they have wool loss. It can also occur in goats, but often occurs by rubbing their head, and scraping the hair off, and getting thickened skin and lesions on their head. And, you know, initially, when a veterinarian looks at those, they’ll see there’s no parasites in there; they may do a scraping, and otherwise it’s just a neurologic disease where the animal just has a need to rub that area. Not all animals with Scrapie will have those classical signs of Scrapie, but you’re looking for neurologic signs. All animals that have those clinical signs—and again, any animal over 14 months of age that dies, or any animal that’s already kidded or lambed in your herd or flock that dies—is eligible or should be tested. Once you have tested 15 animals, then you would be able to reach six years of status in the program. And once you reach 30 animals tested in your herd, then you could be certified. As I said, it is a complicated program; it does take time; it’s very difficult for people that have very large range sheep flocks, where it’s very difficult to be out there every day to see if an animal dies. So it’s very difficult for them to keep up and to get those samples collected when they need to. So it takes intensive management. Occasionally, we know that animals may die from predation or a lightning storm or something else. And you may not see those animals right away in time to get samples collected. And we call those “lost inventory.” And in that case, you would have to test two additional animals for each animal loss to inventory in order to meet the requirements.

Deborah Niemann 10:48
Is there any type of annual testing? You know, like, a lot of people test their herd annually for CAE or Johne’s, and that’s a blood test. Is there some type of annual testing that live animals would undergo?

Charles Gaiser 11:03
There is a live animal test approved for use in sheep and goats. And it’s the rectal biopsy, where we take a sample just inside the anus, the junction between the mucosa of the colon and the skin on the outside, and those have lymph glands. The tissues we normally test for Scrapie are the lymph nodes and the obex, which is the part of the midbrain where this agent with a prion tends to accumulate. So, when we send a head in, we normally test the medial retropharyngeal lymph nodes and the obex, are the two samples that are sent in; we can send in tonsils, also, where lymph tissue is involved. So, yes, there is an antemortem test involved, but it’s not as accurate as a postmortem test. We don’t test on a routine basis, since it is a biopsy. But we only test if we need to, to make up samples, or if we have a suspicion that it might be Scrapie and the owner does not want to give up that animal or to do a postmortem testing on that animal. So, in that case, it’s available; it’s not as accurate as a postmortem test. It’s probably 70% effective at picking up the disease compared to the postmortem testing.

Charles Gaiser 12:24
Also, those lymph follicles where the prion goes in the lymph nodes and the lymph tissue for the rectal biopsy, those follicles tend to disappear as an animal gets older. And those follicles are fewer in goats than in sheep. So, I wouldn’t depend on that to verify your herd is free of Scrapie. That’s why it’s so important that we test those animals that die or are necropsied for other reasons or slaughtered. And we do have a slaughter surveillance program. It’s called the RSSS—Regulatory Scrapie Slaughter Surveillance. And we try to collect samples from animals at slaughter, sheep and goats, around the country. And each state has a minimum number that has been assigned to their state of surveillance samples they must collect in order to be considered a consistent state. So, that was a long answer. I’m sorry.

Deborah Niemann 13:23
No, that was a great answer! Thank you.

Charles Gaiser 13:25
Sure. So, again, primarily, the goal is to get those animals postmortem is the best sample.

Deborah Niemann 13:31
Okay. And I just want to apologize; if people hear tapping in the background when I’m speaking, it’s because there are two baby goats in my office. Who were napping beautifully before I started recording. And now they’ve decided that it’s time to do a ballet for me. So, that’s what the tapping is. And you may occasionally hear them talk to me, too. So.

Charles Gaiser 13:52
You may hear my cat as well. So.

Deborah Niemann 13:53
Okay. The beauty of working at home.

Charles Gaiser 13:57
Yes.

Deborah Niemann 13:58
Now, I know I got so excited when I heard you speak at the ADGA Conference in 2017, because you said that the U.S. had gone three years without a positive Scrapie animal. Because we—as a country—we have to go seven years without any reported cases, so that we can then start exporting to other countries. And, I’ve thought multiple times… I mean, I’ve had goats since 2002. And I’ve thought, “Hey, I should sign up for this program,” you know, “and in seven years, I will be able to export.” And every time I get a message from somebody in Canada—that’s the most common. I’ve gotten stuff from people in the Caribbean. And I can’t. And I’m like, “I’m sorry, I can’t export because we’re not Certified Free Scrapie.” So, in 2017, the U.S. was up to three years, and I’m like, “Wow, that’s great! I’m not even gonna think about it, you know, because four more years and we’re gonna be there.” And then it all ended, because it only takes one positive animal for it to reset the clock. So, where are we now?

Charles Gaiser 15:02
Well, now we seem to be getting a positive case about every 1 to 2 years. And unfortunately, in any eradication program, those last few cases are the most difficult to find. You know, we went from… We had the highest levels back in 2005, where we were collecting a lot of positive animals. And that was routine for states, especially those in the Midwest—we consider around Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, those areas to be kind of Scrapie Central, probably because of the big club lamb programs and the number of black-faced animals that were originally imported in those areas. But, what’s happened over time is, as we try to find those last few, also our funds are reduced over time. So it’s easy to say, “You’re not finding a lot of Scrapie, so therefore you don’t need the funds to go out there and find all those animals.” Originally, when we had plenty of money on the program, the goal was to increase surveillance; to do modeling in each state to find out which herds or flocks we hadn’t gotten any samples from in each state; and to contact those individually. And unfortunately, as time went by, we have not been able to do that because of funding and other reasons. So, those last few samples are hard to find.

Charles Gaiser 16:21
What we have to do is, we have to determine ourselves. We make that determination in the USDA, as a country. At a certain point, we say, “Okay, we have not had Scrapie for a certain number of years; we are declaring ourselves free of Scrapie.” And then, to meet the international standards, which are under OIE—and that’s the international group. I think are 300 and something countries that are part of that group. To prove that we meet the international standards, we have to go—after we declare freedom—we have to go seven years, continuing surveillance, continuing to look for the disease, and not getting any disease. So, let’s say we declare freedom, and three years later, we get a positive animal? The clock starts all over again. So, it’s hard to reach those last few. And the key to finding those last few animals are: Can we trace a positive animal?

Charles Gaiser 17:21
So, let’s say we get a positive animal at slaughter. I mentioned RSSS as one source of that; we can also get positive samples from diagnostic laboratories, submitted by accredited veterinarians for testing, submitted by producers for testing… Those are the most common routes that we have for collecting those samples. And so, let’s say we get a positive test. And then we say, “Okay, where did this animal come from?” And let’s say we picked it up at slaughter. We have an official ID on that animal—we should have. And we trace that official ID back to where that animal came from. Well, the problem occurs is, let’s say we trace that animal back to a market, and we go to that market, and then we find out, well, this was brought in by a dealer. And when the dealer brought that animal in, it didn’t have any ID. So we go talk to the dealer. We say, “Okay, where did you buy that animal?” They say, “Well, I may have bought it in this other state at one of two or three different markets.” So, we go back to those states; we try to find, through his records, where that animal came from. And in some cases—and we have one case right now where we have a positive animal that’s been found in Wisconsin. And that animal was not officially tagged until it went through a market in Wisconsin. And we’re having a hard time finding where that animal traces back to. Remember, I said that this disease is transmitted at birth. So it’s very important to know where that animal was born. And that’s the difficult part: How do we get back to where that animal was born? Ideally, if we wanted to have excellent ability to trace these animals, we would require, nationwide, that all sheep and goats, before they leave the premises of birth, would have an official ID so that we could trace that animal back to the flock of birth. Unfortunately, you know, when a new rule comes out, that rule is posted. And we would love to have that as a rule. But, when we post those rules, and we say, okay, what will the industry accept? What will producers accept? What will the livestock industry accept? What would the slaughter establishments accept as far as a national regulation? We start getting a lot of exceptions in to the rule. But basically, when an animal goes to a market or is sold and change of ownership at any point, it should have (and must have) a Scrapie ID, as you mentioned. And we call that a “flock ID”—that’s an ID from where the animal was born. So ideally, the best way is to have a producer at the flock of birth or herd of birth identify that animal before they sell it and before it leaves their premises.

Deborah Niemann 20:11
And then, the animals need to have a tag. Or, if they’re registered, they can be tattooed with corresponding registration papers that show that tattoo number.

Charles Gaiser 20:24
That’s correct. There’s different forms of ID that can be used as official ID. And, as you said, tattoos—official tattoos—are allowed with the registration tattoo for an approved registration association, or for… You can actually put the flock ID. So, when you register your flock or herd in your state, they’re assigned a flock ID. And again, as I said before, a lot of these terms we use are for sheep, because this was mainly a disease of sheep that has spread. So, why do we assign a flock ID, and not just have a premises ID? And that’s because, historically, animals such as sheep can be moved from place to place for grazing out West and to different locations, so we want that particular flock identified, not just the premises where that flock is located. So you can have a flock tattoo or registration tattoo; you can have a flock ID; a visible ID from an approved manufacturer, which is placed in the ear. You can have e-ID. An e-ID is injectable. You know, our miniature goat folks like to use the e-IDs for their animals…

Deborah Niemann 21:36
Microchips?

Charles Gaiser 21:37
Microchip.

Deborah Niemann 21:39
Okay.

Charles Gaiser 21:39
And I know some of our large goat dairies are starting to use microchips, as well. They can scan. But the problem with a microchip is, when that animal moves, not every place that animal moves through, or not everybody that receives that animal, has the ability to read that microchip. So, when an animal goes to a concentration point, even if it has an approved registry tattoo, as you mentioned, it still has to have a visible form of ID. So, let’s say you take one of your registered goats to a livestock market. That animal must have a visible ID that can be seen. And what markets tell us is that the speed of commerce, they cannot take the time to catch each animal and to look in that ear at the tattoo to use that as official ID. So, it has to have a visible ID. And so the question that commonly comes from dairy goat owners is, “Okay, I have LaMancha animals with no ears. How do I identify this animal?” It has a registration tattoo on its, uh…

Deborah Niemann 22:45
Tail web?

Charles Gaiser 22:45
Tail web, that’s it!

Deborah Niemann 22:47
Yep, and I used to raise LaManchas, and that was, like, the biggest thing slowing me down from getting them. I’m like, “How do I have to tattoo them?”

Charles Gaiser 22:54
Oh, it’s so difficult? Yes.

Deborah Niemann 22:58
It’s awful. It’s so much worse than tattooing ears.

Charles Gaiser 23:01
It is, it is. So, we’ve come with a workaround to where you could put… Let’s say you’re sending an animal to the livestock market. You can put a nylon strap around the animal’s neck; secure that strap with a rivet so the only way it can be taken off is by cutting it off, as you would with an ear tag; and then, on the free flap of that strap, you place the visible ear tag. And that way we can put a visible ear tag and meet the requirements of those animals moving through a concentration point, such as a livestock market. You have to leave enough room for the animal to grow. Let’s say you put it on a kid when it’s very young; you can cut off the rivet as the animal grows, or you can leave enough space for the animal to grow.

Deborah Niemann 23:48
Okay, that makes sense. I had wondered, because I’ve heard people say that they took an animal to the sale barn, and some of them that they insist on putting a sale barn tag in the goat’s ear, even if the goat was tattooed. And I didn’t understand why. But when you talk about how hard it is to read tattoos, I can definitely understand. Because at a show, the only goat whose tattoo gets read is the one that wins, just to verify that this goat is who you say it is and not some finished champion that you’re bringing in as a ringer. And it is very hard. I mean, the judges all carry a flashlight with them, because a lot of times you have to put the light behind the ear and have the light shining through the ear to be able to read the tattoo. And then, like, if you ask somebody to read it, they might get it wrong. But if they’ve got the papers there in front of them and go, “Oh, this goat is supposed to be M16,” then you could say, “Oh yeah, yeah, that was like an ‘M,’ and I guess that’s a ‘6’ there at the end…”

Charles Gaiser 24:52
Yeah, it can definitely be difficult, and especially when you’re talking about the tail web. You have such a small area back there.

Deborah Niemann 24:59
Right.

Charles Gaiser 24:59
And it’s difficult to read. So again, visible—the best recommendation I can give anybody with LaManchas is get your own official flock tags, put that neck strap on them, and apply that tag through there before you take it to the market.

Deborah Niemann 25:15
Okay, thank you very much for telling us that! I love LaManchas. I think the no ears are just so cute. It definitely presents an issue when it comes to identifying.

Charles Gaiser 25:26
Definitely. And, as I said, the other group within the goats that are probably—are the Pygmy goat owners. And, you know, they want to use injectable microchips or injectable ID chips in those animals. And they don’t want to put ID in the animals, but unfortunately, once they go to a concentration point, it has to be a visible ID, because not everybody is going to know where that chip is. And in fact, in our new standards, our new regulation, if people use e-ID, they need to put a tattoo in the ear on where that microchip was placed. The reason is, once that animal goes to slaughter, if it has a microchip that ends up somehow in the meat, it is considered adulteration. And actions can be taken.

Deborah Niemann 26:15
Oh, okay, that’s good to know, too. So, I know the people I’ve seen who like to use microchips will put them under the tail web, because there’s, I guess, the least risk of it migrating and getting lost.

Charles Gaiser 26:28
Yeah, I think two basic locations, two common locations, are the base of the tail or the base of the ear.

Deborah Niemann 26:35
Okay. Is there anything else that people need to know about Scrapie? And the program?

Charles Gaiser 26:42
Well, we’re talking about the mandatory program. And that’s basically what we’ve been talking about. Mandatory official ID, identification of animals going through markets, that’s all part of the mandatory National Scrapie Eradication Program. And, you know, one thing… As I said, it’s difficult to find those last few cases of Scrapie. So, anything that producers can do to help us find those last few cases, we definitely appreciate that. And how do you do that? If you have any animals that are showing clinical signs of Scrapie—the neurologic signs I mentioned or the hair rubbing—or if we have animals that die on the premises that are over 18 months of age, call an accredited vet. Or, you can call the regulatory office, call the Veterinary Services office in your state. Or, you can call the state veterinarian’s office. And find out if a regulatory person is available to come out and collect samples from that animal. As I said earlier, for those producers that are interested, we can also provide a shipping box and a shipping label and pay for shipping if they want to remove the head and send it in for collection. It’s good to know the disease status within your herd. And the testing, of course, is free for those animals testing for Scrapie. You can also have someone else, an accredited vet, remove the head, or friend remove the head for you, if need be. So it’s important to get those tested and get those last few samples. And if your herd has never been tested, or your flock has never been tested, it’s important to make sure that all the flocks and herds in the U.S. are free of Scrapie.

Deborah Niemann 28:20
Okay, thank you. This has been a lot of really great information. And knowing that we reset the clock again, I’m once again thinking, “Well, maybe I should go ahead and sign up now.”

Charles Gaiser 28:33
You know, we’ve estimated that if we have one untraceable animal, that probably sets the program back three years, because there’s an infected herd or flock out there that’s shipping animals—infected animals—throughout the country, we don’t know where they’re going, and probably cost the taxpayer $30 million. So it’s very important to get those animals tested, and to have them identified, so that we can trace them to the flock of birth. One other quick comment: For folks that have never received free tags from the USDA before, or in the past five years, can request free tags by dialing 1-866-USDA-TAG. And it will take you through a call tree where you select the state you’re in, and that call will automatically go to your state veterinary services office.

Deborah Niemann 29:28
Okay. Well, thank you so much for joining us today! I hope that people have a better understanding now of why Scrapie is important, and why we need to care about it, and do what we can to eradicate it. And if anybody heard squeaking, it’s because I have two baby goats in my lap now to try to avoid the tap dancing.

Charles Gaiser 29:50
That just adds extra good stuff to the call! Thank you very much, Deborah, and thanks to all of our goat producers out there for helping to eradicate Scrapie from the United States.

 

 

Scrapie in Goats and Sheep

 

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