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J Gen Virol. 2009 Mar;90(Pt 3):764-8. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.005983-0.

Three serial passages of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in sheep do not significantly affect discriminatory test results.

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  • 1Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA), Woodham Lane, Addlestone, Surrey, UK.


During the 1980s, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)-contaminated meat and bonemeal were probably fed to sheep, raising concerns that BSE may have been transmitted to sheep in the UK. The human disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, arose during the BSE epidemic, and oral exposure of humans to BSE-infected tissues has been implicated in its aetiology. The concern is that sheep BSE could provide another source of BSE exposure to humans via sheep products. Two immunological techniques, Western immunoblotting (WB) and immunohistochemistry (IHC), have been developed to distinguish scrapie from cases of experimental sheep BSE by the characteristics of their respective abnormal, disease-associated prion proteins (PrP(d)). This study compares the WB and IHC characteristics of PrP(d) from brains of primary, secondary and tertiary experimental ovine BSE cases with those of cattle BSE and natural sheep scrapie. Discrimination between experimental sheep BSE and scrapie remained possible by both methods, regardless of the route of challenge.

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