Active surveillance for scrapie in the Netherlands: effect of a breeding programme on the prevalence of scrapie in sheep (2002-2010)? = Acht jaar actieve scrapie-surveillance in Nederland: het effect van het fokprogramma op de prevalentie van schrapie bij het schaap (2002-2010)

Melchior, M.B.; Hagenaars, T.H.J.; Davidse, A.; Keulen, L.J.M. van; Bossers, A.; Zijderveld, F.G. van


The susceptibility of sheep to scrapie is modulated by the prion protein (PrP) genotype of the animal. An ambitious voluntary scrapie control programme was started in the Netherlands in 1998, based on selection of rams with theARR/ARR genotype for breeding. This programme was followed by an obligatory programme in 2004; the programme has been voluntary since 2007. We monitored the prevalence of PrP genotype frequencies and the prevalence of scrapie in the Dutch sheep population between 2002 and June 2010. Results showed that selection for scrapie-resistant sheep resulted in an increase in the ARR allele frequency in the Dutch national flock from 37.5% in 2005 to 61.4% in 2009. Moreover, surveillance data showed that there was a significant decrease in the prevalence of scrapie a few years after the start of the obligatory breeding programme, from more than 0.2% in 2004 to 0.015% in 2009. This decrease is a consequence of the increased number of scrapie-resistant sheep in the Dutch sheep population. To date, the results and the models based on the data show that the selective breeding programme should be continued for several years in order to successfully eradicate scrapie. It will be important to monitor the PrP frequency and scrapie prevalence in the Dutch sheep population in the coming years.