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Bovine spongiform encephalopathy in a goat in France

The occurrence of the first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a goat in France was confirmed on 28 January 2005 by a panel of scientific experts from specialised laboratories in the European Union including the OIE Reference Laboratory for BSE, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency at Weybridge in the United Kingdom.

The French Veterinary Authorities had informed the OIE in November 2004 that the animal, which was two and a half years old at the time of its slaughter in 2002, formed part of a flock of 600 goats including 300 adults. The entire herd had been culled and all the adult goats were tested for scrapie at that time, with negative results. All the carcasses, including that of the affected goat, were destroyed. The scrapie isolate from the infected goat was subjected to further diagnostic testing by inoculation in transgenic mice which is the reference test to distinguish BSE from scrapie. The necessity to wait for several months to obtain such diagnosis explains the long delay in confirming the case.

Through its network of Reference Laboratories and experts, the OIE maintains a close watch on all events related to BSE and is well aware of the importance of reaching a full understanding of this case.

It has therefore called a meeting of internationally renowned BSE experts at the OIE Headquarters, Paris, France on 17-18 March 2005. During this meeting, the experts will discuss the possible existence of BSE phenotypes, including the BSE situation in goats. The potential impact of BSE in goats on public health will also be discussed, although it is noted that any possible risk to consumers is currently to be considered as negligible in view of the extremely low prevalence of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies in goats, and the public health measures already in place in the EU. The experts will also discuss whether the OIE needs to modify its international standards on BSE and scrapie to address this new situation. The outcomes of this meeting will be discussed by all OIE Member Countries at the annual OIE General Session in May 2005.

The OIE works in close collaboration with the European Union (EU) regarding BSE. The surveillance standards on BSE proposed by the OIE to its 167 Member Countries take on board the expertise provided by the EU.