Chapter 7 - Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program
7.2 Policy and Principles of Control

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Policy Statement

The Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program (VSFCP) is a voluntary Canadian program that small ruminant producers can choose to join. Any owner of sheep or goat premises who agrees to comply with the VSFCP may enroll; however, once they are participating in the Program, their compliance with the National Standards is mandatory. The objective of the VSFCP is to provide owners with the opportunity to have their flocks/herds identified as negligible risk with respect to scrapie. The Program certifies flocks/herds with respect to classical scrapie only, and does not cover atypical scrapie, which is clinically, pathologically, biochemically and epidemiologically unrelated to classical scrapie.

The Program is designed to give producers a means of detecting and controlling scrapie within their flock/herd, resulting in recognition that the risk of their animals being infected with scrapie diminishes to negligible with progressive participation in the Program. Being a participating flock/herd and reaching certified status in the Program provides assurances to potential purchasers that the animal for sale is coming from a negligible-risk flock/herd. Recognition of this status can provide market access opportunities domestically and internationally. This Program also provides a valuable vehicle for surveillance for scrapie within Canada, contributing to the National Scrapie Eradication Program.

Statutory Authority

Scrapie is a reportable disease under the Reportable Diseases Regulations, prescribed in accordance with Section 2 of the Health of Animals Act. Any person suspecting an animal of demonstrating signs consistent with scrapie must report that animal to a federal veterinarian at a CFIA district office.

The primary role of the federal government in the VSFCP is to establish the National Standards and to audit for compliance with these standards.

Export Certification

Animals from flocks/herds enrolled in the VSFCP may be certified and endorsed by the CFIA as participating in a program that meets the minimum national standards. The CFIA will work to gain international recognition of the minimum national standards. Certificates documenting participation and level in the VSFCP are obtained from the regional administrator, Canadian Sheep Federation (CSF).

Principles for Control and Eradication

While there are no tests to definitively rule out scrapie in the individual live animal, there are a number of tools that can be used to evaluate the risk of scrapie being present in a sheep flock or goat herd. Ways used to determine the VSFCP status on a flock/herd basis include post-mortem testing, RAMALT testing, genotyping, absence of clinical signs and prevention of exposure to scrapie over a designated period of time.

There are three different approaches or pathways to follow to achieve certification status. The first pathway for sheep or goats relies on surveillance of mature animals that die, the absence of clinical signs, and preventing the exposure to scrapie. A second pathway screens the sheep flock for the presence of scrapie by taking lymphoid tissue samples from either the recto-anal mucosa or third eyelid mucosa from genetically susceptible sheep; and for goat herds, by taking lymphoid tissue samples from the recto-anal mucosa of goats. Once these lymphoid samples test negative for scrapie, the flock or herd does surveillance of mature animals that die and prevents exposure to scrapie. The third pathway to certification is for sheep only, and requires genotyping animals for scrapie resistance as well as ongoing surveillance of mature animals that die.

A scrapie suspect is any animal that has scrapie as a differential diagnosis.

The CFIA implements disease investigation procedures as soon as a clinical suspect is reported.

A scrapie-positive animal is any animal for which scrapie-positive results were reported by the CFIA's National and OIE Reference Laboratory for Scrapie, using at least two CFIA-approved scrapie tests (e.g. ELISA, immunohistochemistry, Western blot) applied to the brain and/or lymphoid tissue.

Any confirmed cases of scrapie results in immediate suspension from the VSFCP. The CFIA implements strict disease eradication measures to eliminate the infection from the premises where it was detected, to determine the source of infection and to identify any spread of the infection from the premises that may have occurred and eliminate it.

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