Written Answers. - Ovine Diseases.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

359 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will report on the number of cases of scrapie in sheep in 1998; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1533/99]

Trevor Sargent

Question:

360 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if his attention has been drawn to a recent report (details supplied) of the concern that BSE in sheep is misdiagnosed as scrapie; the plans, if any, he has to introduce a BSE screening scheme for sheep; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1534/99]

Trevor Sargent

Question:

361 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will report on the provision of funding from his Department for research into the possible incidence of BSE in sheep; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1535/99]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 359 to 361, inclusive, together.

Scrapie was diagnosed in 22 flocks in 1998, most of which are known to have scrapie and which are participating in a number of research projects involving the veterinary research laboratory of my Department and the Veterinary College of University College, Dublin.

The incidence of scrapie in Ireland would appear to be very low. A recent Department sur veillance project conducted in nine slaughter plants, which involved testing of almost 8,000 samples from cull ewes, resulted in just one positive sample.
The Veterinary Research Laboratory of the Department, in conjunction with the Veterinary College, is actively participating in a number of research projects involving scrapie. These projects are part of an EU wide research initiative which is examining various aspects of scrapie, including epidemiology, genetic resistance and strain typing.
BSE has never been diagnosed in sheep in any country other than in experimentally infected sheep. Initial data on the strain types of scrapie present in Ireland suggests that we have only one strain of scrapie.