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From: TSS (
Subject: BSE agent in goat tissue: precautions discussed
Date: December 17, 2004 at 8:26 am PST

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: BSE agent in goat tissue: precautions discussed
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 2004 10:26:02 -0600
From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."
Reply-To: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

##################### Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy #####################


BSE agent in goat tissue: precautions discussed

Editorial team (
), Eurosurveillance editorial

On 28 October 2004, the European Commission announced the possible
finding of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) agent in a goat,
slaughtered in France in 2002 [1]. Tissue samples from the goat were
sent to the European Community Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy
(TSE) reference laboratory
for further testing.

On 26 November, it was announced that a further 2 months were needed
before all results could be interpreted [2]. To prepare for the
eventuality that the goat is confirmed positive for the BSE agent, the
Commission is consulting to decide what measures should be put in place.
This potential event had already been considered in an opinion by the
Scientific Steering Committee advising the European Commission in April
2002 [3].

Although the prion agent responsible for BSE has not been found to occur
naturally in sheep and goats, both have been infected experimentally. It
is likely that small ruminants ate the same feed that spread BSE in
cattle in the 1980s and 1990s, and there is the concern that a BSE
infection could be masked by scrapie, which occurs naturally in both
sheep and goats. Earlier in 2004, an unusual TSE was detected in a sheep
in the UK, although this was subsequently confirmed not to be caused by
the same prion causing BSE [4].

Precautions already implemented
As a result of these concerns, removal of some specified risk material
(SRM) has been implemented for sheep and goat carcasses, as well as
cattle, for some time. Currently, the spleen and ileum of all sheep and
goats are removed as SRM during meat processing. In addition, the skull,
including brain and eyes, tonsils and spinal cord, are designated SRM in
sheep and goats aged over 12 months.

An extensive monitoring and surveillance regime for scrapie and BSE has
been in place for sheep and goats
and since 2002, over 1 million animals have been tested. Given this
widespread testing, the finding of isolated cases of BSE would not
indicate that there is a widespread problem. Furthermore, the goat
population in the EU is very small (12.7 million compared with 89.2
million sheep in 2003). Among sheep, widespread testing has been done,
mostly in the UK since it has the highest incidence of BSE, and all
testing results so far have been negative.

For cattle, Regulation 999/2001 specified risk material is the tonsils,
intestines from the duodenum to the rectum, and the mesentery in cattle
of all ages, and the skull excluding the mandible but including the
brains and eyes, and spinal cord, as well as the vertebral column in
animals over 12 months old (certain extra measures apply to the UK) [5].

Proposed future precautions
A draft proposal for revised food safety measures if the finding of BSE
in the goat is confirmed, was discussed at an EU TSE Working Group on 30
November 2004 and will be subject to further discussion in the coming
months. One proposal is to extend the list of tissues that are
designated as specified risk material (SRM) in goats of all ages to include:

* The whole alimentary canal

* The organs of the thoracic and abdominal cavities (including lymph

* The pre-femoral and pre-scapular lymph nodes

* The entire head

* The tonsils

Spinal cord would remain SRM in goats over 12 months old. These
proposals would remove most of the tissues that are potentially infective.

If these proposals do become EU law, national domestic legislation would
need to be changed accordingly. As the proposed revisions may apply to
goats only, there will be the additional challenge of differentiating
between sheep and goat carcasses after slaughter. A goat tag may be

The proposals will be discussed at the EU Standing Committee on the Food
Chain and Animal Health (ScoFCAH), early in 2005.


1. European Commission. Commission submits French Research Findings
on TSE in a goat to Expert Panel, Press release IP/04/1324, 28
October 2004.

2. European Commission. Panel of scientists require more data to
evaluate suspected case of BSE in a goat. Midday Express, 26
November 2004.
3. European Commission Health & Consumer Protection
Directorate-General. Opinion on safe sourcing of small ruminant
materials (safe sourcing of small ruminant materials should bse in
small ruminants become probable: genotype, breeding, rapid tse
testing, flocks certification and specified risk materials).
Adopted by the Scientific Steering Committee at its meeting of 4-5
April 2002. (
4. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Defra
investigates an unusual scrapie case. Press release, 7 April 2004.
( [accessed 21 April
5. Regulation (EC) No 999/2001 of the European Parliament and of the
Council of 22 May 2001 laying down rules for the prevention,
control and eradication of certain transmissible spongiform
encephalopathies. Official Journal of the European Communities
2001; L 147/1: 31.5.2001.


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