Strain typing of German transmissible spongiform encephalopathies field cases in small ruminants by biochemical methods

A Gretzschel, A Buschmann, M Eiden, U Ziegler, G Lühken, G Erhardt, M H Groschup
Journal of Veterinary Medicine. B, Infectious Diseases and Veterinary Public Health 2005, 52 (2): 55-63
Following the implementation of a large scale transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) surveillance programme of small ruminants, evidence for a natural transmission of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) to a French goat has been found. During the years 2002-2004, a massive TSE rapid testing programme on >250,000 small ruminants was carried out in Germany. In this national survey, 186 scrapie-affected sheep were found which originated from 78 flocks. The majority of these cases were of the classical TSE type (115 sheep belonging to 14 outbreaks). However, 71 cases coming from 64 flocks were of the novel atypical scrapie type. According to the regulation EU 999/2001, all TSE cases in small ruminants have to be examined by strain typing methods to explore any possibility of the existence of BSE cases in the field sheep population. Here we report on a biochemical typing strategy (termed FLI-test), which includes the determination of molecular masses, antibody binding affinities and glycosylation pattern of the TSE induced abnormal prion protein. Based on this typing approach none of the analysed German classical TSE outbreaks (total number of analysed sheep: 36) displayed biochemical features indicative for a BSE infection. However, in two cases distinct but BSE-unrelated PrP(Sc) types were found, which alludes to the existence of different scrapie strains in the German sheep population.

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