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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Sample Submission

Submit Samples to Test for Scrapie

In order to find the remaining scrapie infected sheep and goats and to demonstrate to the world that the U.S. is scrapie free, we need more sample submissions from mature sheep and goats that die on farm. The only diagnostic tests currently available to determine if a sheep or goat has scrapie require brain or lymphoid tissue.

Scrapie is typically diagnosed by finding abnormal prion protein accumulation in the brain and/or lymphoid tissue (i.e., third eyelid or rectoanal lymphoid tissue, tonsil or lymph node) of infected sheep or goats.

A positive test result must be confirmed positive by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) or a laboratory to which the NVSL has referred a case for a sheep or goat to be designated a scrapie case.

Educate yourself about the clinical signs of scrapie and how to prevent scrapie.

Contact the VS District Office for your state if your sheep or goat, older than 12 months, exhibits clinical signs of scrapie. If the animal is determined to be a scrapie suspect you may be eligible to receive indemnity for the animal Testing clinical suspects is the most cost effective way to find scrapie infected animals.

  • List of approved Designated Scrapie Epidemiologists (DSEs) and Contact Information (pdf 92kb)

Submit samples or whole heads from sheep and goats over 18 months of age that die or are euthanized on your premises. Additional information is available on how you or your veterinarian can submit samples or whole heads for scrapie testing.

Genetic testing does NOT tell you whether or not a sheep or goat is infected with scrapie

Susceptibility to infection in sheep has been shown to vary according to sheep genetics and breed. For classical scrapie in sheep, the codons at positions 136 and 171 in the gene that codes for the amino acids in the prion protein (PrP) have been highly associated with scrapie susceptibility and resistance. There is increasing evidence that codons 146 and 222 are associated with classical scrapie susceptibility and resistance in goats. See the links below for more information.

Requirements for submitting samples for official genotype testing:

  • Sheep are officially identified
  • The blood is drawn by a Federal or State animal health official or an accredited veterinarian
  • The sample is submitted with a VS Form 5-29 or State equivalent
  • The lab is approved by APHIS (see below)
  • The sample also meets any additional requirements set by the approved scrapie susceptibility genotyping lab

Genotype testing for susceptibility to scrapie is a key element of the Scrapie Eradication Program (NSEP). Consequently, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) has approved laboratories to perform sheep genotyping, in an official capacity, for the prion protein gene at codons 136, 154, and 171. Approval is in accordance with:

Approved Genotyping Laboratories

Approved scrapie susceptibility genotyping laboratories (sheep, goats) may conduct owner paid official scrapie genotype testing and compete for NSEP funded official genotyping. This approval lasts for 1 year and is subject for review and renewal.

Each laboratory applied for approval to conduct official genotype tests. The approval process begins by the laboratory sending an application package to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NSVL).

Additional information about genotyping lab approval is available.

If you have any questions or are a representative of a laboratory that would like to be considered for approval to participate in the genotyping of sheep for the Scrapie Eradication Program, please contact

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