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see prionprion
, abnormal form of a protein found in mammals, now generally believed to cause a group of diseases known as prion diseases or transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, which are rare progressive degenerative neurological disorders.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a slowly developing infectious disease of sheep that is associated with degenerative changes in the central nervous system and characterized by excitability, severe itching, paralysis, and emaciation. First reported in Great Britain in 1732, scrapie is recorded today in Europe, southern Africa, India, Australia, Canada, the USA, and many other areas.

The nature of the causative agent of scrapie has not been determined. A viral hypothesis has been formulated but not substantiated. Some believe the causative agent to be a protein, whereas others believe it to be a special type of polysaccharide. There also is a membrane hypothesis, which states that the biological activity of the causative agent of scrapie is the function of a modified cell membrane.

The causative agent of scrapie is extraordinarily resistant; it can withstand boiling for three hours, is resistant to chemical agents, and preserves well in desiccated pathological material and at low temperatures. Sheep 18 months of age and older are affected. The causative agent is transmitted when sick and healthy animals are housed together and when animals graze on infected pastures. Sheep of various breeds have different susceptibilities to scrapie. Although the disease has been recorded year-round, it occurs more frequently in winter and spring. Scrapie might be related to such human diseases as multiple sclerosis and parkinsonism. The incubation period lasts one to four years. At first, infected animals are characterized by unusual behavior, increased excitability, tremors, and an abnormal gait. Itching is also a characteristic early symptom. Subsequent symptoms include emaciation, incoordination, and paralysis. The animals die several weeks after the appearance of the first symptoms.

Scrapie is diagnosed according to clinical symptoms and histological examination. A treatment has not been developed. Control and preventive measures include the refusal of entry of sheep from an infected country and the slaughter of infected flocks. Some sheep breeders discontinue hereditary lines of sheep among which scrapie has been discovered.


Kukhto, A. F. “Pochesukha ovets: skreipi.” In Bolezni ovets. Moscow, 1963.
Andrewes, C. Virusy pozvonochnykh. Moscow, 1967. (Translated from English.)
Andrewes, C. Estestvennaia istoriia virusov. Moscow, 1969. (Translated from English.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(veterinary medicine)
A transmissible, usually fatal, virus disease of sheep, characterized by degeneration of the central nervous system.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
In separate experiments, sheep with scrapie and deer with CWD that lived in fenced pastures, were then removed and the habitat "cleaned" with various chemicals, fire, etc.
In addition to having fatal consequences for infected animals, scrapie and BSE have a serious economic effect on the livestock industry.
[88] originally documented that the relative proportion of [PrP.sup.Sc] glycoforms, the so called "glycoform ratio," was associated with strain variability and could be used to differentiate strains of the scrapie agent when isolated in inbred mice.
Prusiner, "Novel proteinaceous infectious particles cause scrapie," Science, vol.
The project integrated computer-based image analysis techniques with molecular diagnostics to demonstrate that in sheep with scrapie specific MRI changes can be indicative of neurodegeneration before symptoms appear.
The approved scrapie programme for the years 2009 and 2010 submitted by Cyprus will receive special support, including a 75 per cent level of EC contribution to the compensation paid to the owners by the Government of Cyprus as well as costs for personnel and the destruction of carcasses.
Since 2001, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has coordinated an accelerated National Scrapie Eradication Program to eliminate the disease from U.S.
John J Holland in Scientific American in February 1974 drew attention, largely seemingly overlooked, to Dr Narang's work in Efraim Field's laboratory in Newcastle General Hospital, which first reported unusual microscopic particles in brains from rats infected with scrapie.
TSEs are a group of fatal neurodegenerative diseases, which include scrapie in sheep and goats, chronic wasting disease in elk and deer, transmissible mink encephalopathy (TME) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) in humans.
Their theory was based on the fact that the mysterious infectious agent causing diseases such as scrapie and CJD resisted ultraviolet radiation (which breaks down nucleic acids), yet was inactivated by agents that disrupt proteins.