Education And Debate

Commentary: Scrapie revisited

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 21 October 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1075
  1. R G Will, consultant neurologista
  1. aDepartment of Clinical Neurosciences, National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance Unit, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh EH4 2XU

    Scrapie is a naturally occurring disease of sheep, which has become the subject of increased scientific and media interest as scrapie contamination of feed was the probable origin of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Despite research over the past 30 years, the mechanism of transmission of natural scrapie remains uncertain. The literature on natural and experimental scrapie is extensive and at times confusing, with some authors arguing that scrapie is a purely genetic disorder while others maintain that it is an infectious disease. The advances in molecular biology in recent years have provided new information on scrapie, and Ridley and Baker provide a timely review, concluding that maternal transmission of scrapie and other spongiform encephalopathies is a myth.

    There is no good evidence of maternal transmission in any of the human spongiform encephalopathies, in experimental …

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