Surveillance of BSE
The current method used to identify suspect BSE cases is based on reporting cattle displaying clinical signs compatible with BSE. The reporting of such cases is dependent on the ability of farmers and veterinarians to recognise the disease symptoms and on the willingness to report such cases. Furthermore, it depends on the stage of the disease, because early clinical signs of BSE are not always typical.
Histology and immunohistochemistry are established and reliable to confirm BSE in cattle, but the procedure is cumbersome, time consuming and therefore not suited for mass testing of animals.
A targeted surveillance system using the Prionics-Western-Blot Test was initiated in Switzerland in 1999. Prionics-positive results are confirmed by histology or immunohistochemistry by the BSE-reference laboratory. This surveillance scheme has confirmed fallen stock and cows subjected to emergency slaughter as the major risk groups. Currently all cattle from these two categories are tested. As a further measure a random sample of cows from regular slaughtering is tested. This enables to determine the BSE status independent of the inaccuracies of a clinical case reporting system. This approach may be helpful to reliably assess the BSE situation in countries with low incidence in order to verify their BSE status and in countries which want to prove their BSE-free status.
KeywordsBovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Falkland Island Mandatory Reporting Passive Surveillance Adult Cattle
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