Chapter 7 - Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program
7.3 Accredited Veterinarian's Responsibilities

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Preliminary Activities

  • 1. Obtain and read the VSFCP chapter in the Accredited Veterinarian's Manual, including the VSFCP National Standards. The Canadian Sheep Federation (CSF) is the VSFCP administrator and status assessor. The VSFCP National Standards and other information for accredited veterinarians are also available on the CSF's Scrapie Canada website.
  • 2. Schedule a meeting with the local CFIA district veterinarian to review the accredited veterinarian's duties for the VSFCP and the procedures that must be followed. A tutorial or a review of the scrapie sampling techniques in small ruminants is suggested at this time.
  • 3. Establish a valid accreditation agreement (contract) with the CFIA district office for the delivery of the VSFCP.
  • 4. Advise the producer to contact the VSFCP regional administrator at the CSF to learn the requirements to participate in, advance and maintain certification within each of the three pathways to certification. The step of applying for entry into the VSFCP is delayed in pathways two and three until additional conditions are met. VSFCP applications are available on the Scrapie Canada website and enrollment procedures are detailed in Section 2 of the VSFCP National Standards.
  • 5. The accredited veterinarian and owner should discuss which of the three pathways to certification they intend to pursue. (VSFCP pathways are described in paragraphs 13 – 27 below). Assessment of the facilities, flock/herd management and record keeping on the premises should be done to gauge the degree to which the accredited veterinarian feels the producer can be successful, and to identify any changes in record keeping or management that would be necessary in order to facilitate the fulfilment of VSFCP requirements.

General Responsibilities

  • 6. The VSFCP is carried out in co-operation with producers, accredited veterinarians, national stakeholder organizations, approved laboratories and the CFIA. Roles and responsibilities for each of these partners are listed in the VSFCP National Standards.
    • Accredited veterinarian general responsibilities are listed in Section 1.4 Program Delivery of the Standards.
    • Owner responsibilities include those listed in Section 1.6 Producers and Section 3. General Rules of the Standards. It is also the owner's responsibility to comply with all requirements of the selected pathway.

Annual Physical Inspection, Inventory and Report

  • 7. General rules for the three certification pathways are in Section 3 of the VSFCP National Standards. Each pathway also has individual requirements listed in the Standards.
  • 8. The accredited veterinarian must visit the enrolled premises at least once a year. The annual physical flock/herd inventories must be conducted as per Section 3.10 Flock/Herd Inventories of the VSFCP National Standards under the supervision of the accredited veterinarian. Appropriately trained third-party personnel, such as animal health technicians or veterinary students, may participate. The inventory will identify every sheep and goat on the premises, and the accredited veterinarian must assess for any clinical symptoms of scrapie.
  • 9. The annual inventory report is the responsibility of the accredited veterinarian. The foundation of the annual inventory report is the reconciliation of this year's annual inventory with the previous year's annual inventory. The annual report requirements are listed in Section 3.11 Annual Report of the VSFCP National Standards.
  • 10. When the accredited veterinarian is satisfied that the report adequately documents all reconciliation of the inventory, the report is signed. The document is forwarded to the VSFCP administrator and status assessor within the anniversary quarter (January 1 – March 31; April 1 – June 30; July 1 – September 30; October 1 – December 31) in which the enrolled flock/herd was registered in the Program. Along with the report, the owner submits an application to advance to the next level of the Certification Program or to maintain certified status once the level has been attained.

Deadstock Testing

  • 11. Deadstock testing is the most critical element of the Program, and the absence of even one submission without documented cause will jeopardize the status of the flock/herd within the Program. Detailed requirements for deadstock testing are listed in both the general rules and in the specific pathway requirements of the VSFCP National Standards. The nearest approved laboratory for scrapie testing should be identified by both the accredited veterinarian and the producer. The accredited veterinarian or the producer may submit the head or brain sample directly to the laboratory. The accredited veterinarian should review how to sever the head, and indicate that samples should be stored frozen. Heads/samples may be held and sent, or delivered in batches. See Section 7.5 Appendix A for brain sampling procedures.

Sick Animals

  • 12. Owners are instructed in the VSFCP National Standards to report illness in a sheep or goat over 12 months of age lasting longer than two weeks, with the exception of a physical injury. The accredited veterinarian will be responsible for monitoring the outcome of the case and for reporting the case to the CFIA if scrapie is a differential diagnosis. The accredited veterinarian should educate the owner to recognize the clinical signs of scrapie and provide information on the epidemiology of the disease.

Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program Pathways

Pathway 1: Limited Acquisitions Plus Surveillance

  • 13. This pathway is available to goats and sheep.
  • 14. The accredited veterinarian should advise the producer that at the current time, pathway 1 is the only pathway of the Canadian VSFCP designed using OIE's scrapie chapter guidelines for a scrapie-free establishment. Pathway 1 involves limiting acquisitions to animals from similar or higher status flocks/herds and ongoing surveillance through submission of deadstock for scrapie testing.
  • 15. All requirements detailed in the VSFCP National Standards are applicable to flocks/herds participating in this pathway. The Standards are included in this module of the Accredited Veterinarian's Manual (AVM) and are also available on Scrapie Canada's website under the VSFCP Rules and Regulations. In the Standards, Section 3. General Rules and Section 4. Program Specific Pathway 1 details the general and specific rules for this pathway.
  • 16. The Program pathway includes six levels, from the entry level (level E) to the highest level (certified). A minimum of five years (one year each at levels E, D, C, B and A) is necessary for a registered flock to reach the certified level. Once a flock has reached the certified level, it maintains this level provided that the applicable requirements continue to be met. The OIE's scrapie chapter guidelines require seven years of compliance to qualify as a scrapie-free establishment.

Pathway Two (A and B): Live Animal Screening plus Surveillance

Pathway 2A – Third Eyelid Biopsy
Pathway 2B – RAMALT Biopsy

  • 17. Pathway 2A is only available to sheep; it is not available to goats. Pathway 2B is available to both sheep and goats.
  • 18. The accredited veterinarian should advise the producer that, at the current time, these pathways, while based on internationally recognized science, are not consistent with OIE's scrapie chapter guidelines for a scrapie-free establishment. Pathway 2 involves screening all susceptible animals by means of the third eyelid test (sheep only) or the recto-anal mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (RAMALT) biopsy test. Negative results give a reasonable level of assurance that disease is not present in the flock/herd and results in obtaining advanced status. Like pathway 1, pathway 2 also involves limiting acquisitions to animals from similar or higher status flocks/herds and ongoing surveillance through submission of deadstock for scrapie testing.
  • 19. All requirements detailed in the VSFCP National Standards are applicable to flocks/herds participating in this pathway. The Standards are included in this AVM module and are also available on Scrapie Canada's website under VSFCP Rules and Regulations. In the Standards, Section 3. General Rules and Section 5. Program Specific Pathway 2A and Program Specific Pathway 2B detail the general and specific rules for this pathway.
  • 20. The Program pathway includes three levels, starting at level B to the highest level (certified). A minimum of two years (one year each at levels B and A) is necessary for a registered flock to reach the certified level. Once a flock has reached the certified level, it maintains this level provided that the applicable requirements continue to be met.
  • 21. A veterinarian accredited to deliver the VSFCP must collect the appropriate samples for the live animal screening. See Section 7.5 Appendices C and D for sampling procedures.

Pathway Three: Genetic Selection

  • 22. This pathway is only available to sheep; it is not available to goats. Entry into this pathway can be accomplished in two ways: whole flock screening or rams-only screening.
  • 23. The accredited veterinarian should advise the producer that, at the current time, this pathway, while based on internationally recognized science, is not consistent with OIE guidelines for a scrapie-free establishment. Pathway 3 is based on genetic selection for scrapie resistance, utilizing genotyping, and eliminating all susceptible animals from the breeding flock. Ongoing surveillance through submission of deadstock continues to monitor for the presence of disease.
  • 24. All requirements detailed in the VSFCP National Standards are applicable to flocks/herds participating in this pathway. The Standards are available in this AVM module and are also available on Scrapie Canada's website under VSFCP Rules and Regulations. In the Standards, Section 3. General Rules (parts 3.20 – 3.21 discuss genotyping), Section 6. Whole-Flock Genetic Screening and Section 7. Rams-Only Genetic Screening details the general and specific rules for this pathway.
  • 25. There are two distinct ways in which producers may prepare their flocks for application into this pathway. The accredited veterinarian is advised to assist the producer in the decision whether or not to use pathway 3 and, if so, whether to use whole-flock genetic screening (Section 6 of the Standards) or rams-only genetic screening (Section 7 of the Standards) for application into this pathway. The rams-only genetic screening method genotypes rams and uses 171RR rams exclusively. The whole-flock genetic screening method genotypes all breeding stock, and uses the 136AA 171QR and171RR rams and ewes. This may be an iterative process of testing and decision making. The producer may undertake to test only breeding rams at first. With these results, it may be possible to determine whether there is a sufficient base of genetic resistance to scrapie to start a breeding program for scrapie resistance without substantial loss of other production traits, using only 171RR rams. If there is an insufficient base of genetic resistance in the ram population, the producer may undertake to test the rest of the breeding flock. These results may then be reviewed to determine whether there is a sufficient base of genetic resistance across the ewes and rams to breed for resistance to scrapie without substantial loss of other production traits.
  • 26. The Program pathway includes two levels, starting at level A, once all breeding sheep are documented to be 136AA 171QR or 171RR, to the highest level (certified). After 12 months at level A, the producer may apply to advance to the certified level. Once a flock has reached the certified level, it maintains this level provided that the applicable requirements continue to be met.
  • 27. A veterinarian accredited to deliver the VSFCP must supervise the collection of appropriate samples for genetic testing. See Section 7.5 Appendix B for sampling procedures and Appendix G for a list of CFIA-approved laboratories for genotyping.
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