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From: TSS ()
Subject: Re: SEAC Food standards agency atypical scrapie contingency plan
Date: July 19, 2007 at 9:43 am PST

In Reply to: SEAC Food standards agency atypical scrapie contingency plan posted by TSS on July 18, 2007 at 12:39 pm:

The USDA's secret scrapie non-survey

The USDA's secret scrapie non-survey
24 May 99 transcript of USDA FOIA documents

Commentary (webmaster):
Recently, K. O'Rourke's new ruminant monoclonal enabled for the first time a good survey of preclinical scrapie in the US. She sensibly concluded one paper on successful preclinical detection of scrapie with:

"Until we have a better understanding of intraspecies and interspecies transmission of TSEs, it would be prudent to remove all prion postive sheep from breeking flocks and from the food chain."

J. Miller determined the costs of a 3,000 sheep slaughterhouse survey to be a pittance, $27,500 in an agency with an 11 digit budget. That's $9 per sheep.

But there was one itty-bitty problem for USDA. ARS didn't want to expend all this effort only to have it buried without at least an internal document being produced. And so the survey never got done. Or it got done without a paper trail being created. Or a paper trail was created but they held it back from the FOIA requestors. Perhaps too many of the sheep would be found infected.

The US had about 8.5 million sheep. The ones with preclinical scrapie presumbably entered the human food chain.

Now which sheep parts are infected? Thirty months earlier, on 8 July 1994 John Gorham [USDA, ARS, Pullman] had written to Tom Walton discusson the occasion of the 30 June 1994 MAFF announcement of BSE infectivity of calf ileum:


"Here is where the real cruncher comes. Sheep offal from lambs less than one year of age is currently legally rendered in most US plants. If it is found that scrapie infectivity is in the intestine of lambs and all rendering of sheep is prohibitied, it will be a severe economic hardship on those producers raising lambs. It is not economically favorable to raise lambs for the meat alone. They need a market for the offal (dog food, fertilizer, bone meal, etc.) and an economical way of disposing of the carcasses. Katherine [O'Rourke] is currently investigating the infectivity of tissues from preclinical sheep. We'll have a chance to discuss this is September [1994]."
But there was another itty-bitty problem for USDA. ARS didn't want to expend all this effort only to have it buried without at least an internal document being produced. And so the tissue survey never got done. Or it got done without a paper trail being created. Or a paper trail was created but they held it back from the FOIA requestors. Perhaps too much of the sheep would be found infected.

And here we are in May, 1999. The US still has millions upon millions of sheep. We still have not the slightest idea what fraction of US sheep have scrapie nor which tissues consumed by humans are affected. The ones with preclinical scrapie presumbably still enter the human food chain.

How many scrapie sheep were eaten by people in the years since the scrapie survey became feasible? Why not test _all_ the sheep at slaughter if it is just it is only a dollar or two per sheep?

Then there is the matter of the never-published strain-typing of US scrapie [below]. This had potential for undermining confidence in sheep-to-cow passage studies of scrapie in US cows not resembling UK BSE. All in all, USDA is shirking its duty . Whered is the accountability here to the taxpayers providing that 11 digit annual budget?

18 Dec 96 memo from Janice Miller to Linda Detwiler:
"After our discussion last week concerning the possibilities for an APHIS/ARS collaboration to do a scrapie survey using immunohistochemistry, I talked with Randall Cutlip regarding the extent to which NADC could become involved. We investiggated the direct costs associated with such a venture and decided that enough resources will be available during FY97 to examine 3,000 specimens (1 slide per animal). This commitment requires a financial outlay of $27,500:
-- $7.50 per specimen to embed and prepare 1 unstained section: $22,500
-- labor for IHC (10 weeks): 3,000
-- staining reagents: $2,000.

"...We plan to hire a college student to do the staining procedure during the summer vacation months.... Our histopathology laboratory can handle about 200 extra specimens per week (in addition to their routine activities)..."
"...the monoclonal antibody reagent developed by O'Rourke is a better quality reagent than the arabbit antibody we currently use, in terms of both staining quality (low background) and its anti-PrP titre. "

"I'm sure you understand that an ARS commitment to a project of this size carries with it the expecgation that some kind of documentation (preferable a paper in a refereed journal) will be forthcoming. That's one thing that certainly will need discussion..."

"My understanding of the resolution passed by the Sheep and Goat Committtee at the recent USAHA meeting it taht it requests a survery to establish the prevalence rate of scrapie in the US. Al [Jenny] pointed out to me that since some adult sheep are sent to Mexico for slaughter, we may not be able to acquire the type of samples needed to address the [sampling protocol] issue. If so, do we still want to attempt the work anyway? Would it be useful to do a survey that would just dertermine the incidence of scrapie in sheep that are slaughtered in the US?


http://www.mad-cow.org/usda_downers.html

Hunkering down in the APHIS BSE Situation Room

http://www.mad-cow.org/usda_downers.html#ccc


U.S. Emergency Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Response Plan Summary * U.S. Emergency Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Response Plan Summary (328 lines) From: Terry S. Singeltary Sr. Date: Tue, 4 May 1999 18:25:12 -0500

http://www.vegsource.com/talk/madcow/messages/94593.html

http://www.vegsource.com/talk/madcow/messages/93594.html


Hunkering down in the APHIS BSE Situation Room... - Terry S. Singeltary Sr. 2/14/00 (0)

http://www.vegsource.com/talk/madcow/messages/7255.html


U.S. Emergency Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Response Plan Summary - Terry S. Singeltary Sr. 2/14/00 (0)

http://www.vegsource.com/talk/madcow/messages/7254.html


TSS




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