Scrapie (scrapie) is one of the so-called diseases of the prion, including Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, BSE in cattle, CWD in mink, TME in mink and FSE in cats.
Prions are malformed proteins that cause damage to the brain. With scrapie, there is a deposition of starch-like substances in the brain that lead to its regression. The brain is increasingly developing a sponge-like, sponge-like structure.
Animal meal derived from scrapie-infected sheep fed to cattle has transmitted the pathogen and triggered BSE. The English term scrapie is due to the fact that sick sheep often rub off the wool due to strong itching. The German name scrapie refers to abnormalities in the gang reference. In the case of epizootic scrapie there is a duty of registration in Germany. In 2011, 19 cases of illness became known.
Prions are proteins that are also found in healthy carcasses. Only by mismatches of these proteins they get their disease-causing importance and lead to scrapie.
The malformed prions are similar in their effect as organic toxins to the virus. But unlike bacteria and viruses, the prions are resistant to heat and can not be combated by disinfection.
According to the current state of knowledge, scrapie is a transmissible disease, for the onset of which a corresponding genetic disposition is of great importance. The details of the transmission path are not yet explored.
Between contagion and the onset of the disease symptoms, scrapie may take several years to appear healthy. At the time of the disease, the average age of the animals in scrapie is 3.5 years.
The scrapie primarily causes behavioral problems in animals. Diseased animals are nervous or frightened and tremble. The movements are also impaired, so that the animals often tumble, trot or hop. In the course of the disease there is a loss of weight and a persistent itch, which is used to scour the wool or coat of the animals.
The further symptom picture varies greatly from animal to animal, whereby scrapie always ends fatally. In humans, the disease can also lead to death. Previous symptoms are comparable: tremors, inner restlessness and an unusually intense itching. The first symptoms usually appear only a few hours to days after infection.
The disease then rapidly increases in intensity and eventually leads to organ disorders, cardiovascular complaints and inflammation of the entire body. In the last stage, the patients fall into a coma. Accompanying this, further skin changes occur. The scrapie can be recognized at this stage by the conspicuous discoloration of the eyes. In some patients, the hair also falls out or it comes to a gray color of the skin. Patients eventually die of heart failure or sepsis.
A symptom of scrapie disease is a behavioral change in the animals that appears frightening and nervous. The movements of the tumbling, hovering, trotting or often trembling animals are disturbed. Itching causes her to scour her wool. Furthermore, the weight of the diseased animals decreases. However, every animal, especially in the early stages of the disease with scrapie (scrapie disease) developed an individual symptomatology.
A reliable diagnosis of scrapie can currently be made only after the death of the animal by examining a tissue sample from the brain. Although it is also attempted to diagnose the disease by examining lymph tissue samples already in living animals, the results of this method are not yet scientifically recognized. Once the scrapie has broken out, the disease will in all cases lead to death within a few weeks or months.
In the worst case, this disease can lead to the death of the person affected. However, this case occurs only very rarely and can usually be avoided relatively easily. The affected suffer primarily from a strong inner restlessness and a dreadfulness. These complaints have a very negative effect on the quality of life of the patient and thus also on the everyday life of the person concerned.
It comes to a strong tremor and anxiety. Also, gait disturbances and disturbances of the coordination can occur by scrapie and make the everyday life of the patient more difficult. Most sufferers lose weight as the disease progresses and continue to itch on the skin. The symptoms often lead to depression or other mental health problems.
A direct and causal treatment of this disease is usually not possible. The affected people can only restrict the symptoms and symptoms, but not completely combat the disease. It may also result in a reduced life expectancy of the patient. It may be possible to develop a therapy in the next few years. When treating the symptoms, however, no special complications occur.
Scrapie should always be treated by a doctor in humans. Only through early and proper treatment can further compilations and in the worst case death be prevented. A self-healing can not occur in the scrapie, so the person is dependent on medical treatment. A doctor should be consulted if the person affected by the scrapie suffers from severe itching and trembling. It trembles on the entire body and can significantly reduce the quality of life of those affected.
It also leads to a very strong internal restlessness and continue to a coma, if the scrapie is not treated. If these symptoms occur, a doctor should be consulted immediately. Also, the heart is damaged by the scrapie, so that sudden heart problems may indicate the disease. In scrapie should be visited directly a hospital. If the disease is detected and treated early, it usually does not cause any special complications. Only if the scrapie is not treated will the life expectancy of the person affected be drastically reduced.
Therapeutic possibilities for the treatment of the scrapie diseased animals do not exist as with all other prion diseases so far. However, attempts are being made to prevent the spread of scrapie by prophylactically isolating the animals. However, since there may be seasonal areas between the infection and the occurrence of the first symptoms of scrapie, the secretion of the affected animals takes place only at a relatively late point in time and is therefore limited in their effectiveness.
After emergency slaughter of animals suffering from scrapie, the carcasses are burned to eliminate sources of infection. The first therapeutic approaches were developed by researchers from the Universities of Bonn and Munich, who were able to extend the lifespan of comparable infected mice with a new treatment procedure. The researchers used special RNA molecules (related to DNA) that attach to those genes in the brain cells responsible for producing the defective prions.
With this method, the production of pathological (pathogenic) proteins could be reduced by 97%. However, the RNA-treated animals only had a one-third increased lifespan if they were able to protect the vast majority of their brain cells. Whether the development of a therapy will be possible, which can reach all brain cells by means of this so-called RNA interference method, however, is doubted by the researchers. Research into effective therapy for scrapie will take several years to complete.
A phrophylactic measure is the removal and emergency slaughter of animals suffering from scrapie. Because of the long incubation period, however, the isolation of the animals has only limited effectiveness. One of the long-term ways of combating epidemic scrapie is to develop breeding programs that use genetic testing to determine in advance the susceptibility of the animals intended for breeding. In addition, a veterinary monitoring is carried out, with the goat and flock herds are examined by area-wide samples for scrapie.
There is no treatment option for scrapie according to the current state of science. After an animal has fallen ill with scrapie, death occurs after the onset of the first symptoms in a period of between two weeks and six months. For this reason, aftercare is not required.
However, measures taken after the onset of the disease focus on combating a potential disease. Scrapies cases must be reported to the competent authorities under EU law. The subsequent measures differ in detail from country to country. As a rule, sick animals such as sheep or goats are killed.
The carcasses must then be disposed of safely, so that no further risk of infection can emanate from them. In addition, extensive quarantine measures are usually ordered in connection with the long incubation period of scrapie. They are intended to ensure that healthy animals do not become infected.
Even unrecognized diseases are to be detected in apparently healthy animals. In addition, the official veterinarian may order that animals that belong to a high-risk group be killed within a herd. In addition, measures following a scrapie disease also focus on breeding resistant breeds and preventing future outbreaks.
Some diseases can be cured with self-medication. Well-tried recipes promise at least a relief of the complaints. The transition to the doctor is unnecessary. These self-help measures are not possible if there is a suspicion of scrapie (scrapie). Because there is no effective means. Neither a doctor nor a keeper can heal a goat or a sheep.
Only insulation is suitable to prevent infection of other animals. The animal is then slaughtered. The carcass is burned to avoid any transmission.
The diagnosis of scrapie involves difficulties. So far, it can only be clearly established on dead animals. Pet owners are initially only indications of the disease. However, the typical behavioral changes and signs have only limited significance. Everyday life brings with it a high degree of uncertainty.
In addition, it proves to be problematic that the time to the onset of the scrapie is two to five years. An infectious animal may thus imperceptibly infect the entire herd. In practice, it is recommended that sheep and goat farmers at least maintain an overview of the herd population.