Government pledges pounds 3.8m grant for scrapie research

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The Independent Online
A government grant of pounds 3.8m has been earmarked for new research into scrapie, the equivalent of "mad cow disease" in sheep. Scientists at the Institute for Animal Health will investigate how the disease develops, spreads, and is transmitted.

Scrapie is thought to have triggered bovine spongiform encepalopathy (BSE) after diseased sheep offal was mixed into cattle feed in the 1970s and 1980s. Experts think the disease jumped the "species barrier" to re- emerge as BSE.

The new research, using part of pounds 8.5m set aside by the Medical Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), aims to make progress towards eradicating scrapie from the national flock. Last year, 213 cases were recorded among the UK's 41.5 million sheep.