Modelling the national scrapie eradication programme in the UK.
Kao RR., Gravenor MB., McLean AR.
In accordance with a policy to eliminate all transmissible spongiform encephalopathies from the food chain, a national untargeted ram breeding programme to eliminate scrapie in the UK is in the final stages of planning. Here we formulate a model of flock-to-flock scrapie transmission, in order to consider the effect of a targeted breeding programme which is in the early stages of consideration. We estimate the size of the susceptible flock population, and discuss implications for potential control programmes. Targeting all rams and ewes in highly susceptible flocks rather than rams in all flocks will eradicate scrapie more quickly, and so is likely to be beneficial as long as suitable penalties or incentives are available to facilitate their identification. A more restricted programme aimed only at highly affected flocks would be much easier to implement and crucially will eradicate scrapie just as quickly. This will leave behind a residue population of susceptible sheep, which could then be gradually removed by a more general breeding programme.