Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies

01 May 2001

Further basic research is crucial to our understanding of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs) and the multi-factorial nature of their occurrence and natural transmission.

It is important to encourage some high quality young researchers in this area through the establishment of prestigious 5-10 year Fellowships.

The ban on recycling animal protein, for example using Meat and Bone Meal for ruminant food, should remain for the foreseeable future, and it is essential to explore alternative ways of disposing of carcasses.

It is important to eradicate TSEs from all food animals; in the case of sheep and goats this should be assisted through the breeding of resistant animals and the selective culling of infected animals.

Highly sensitive and inexpensive tests need to be developed for the routine testing of slaughtered animals and preclinical tests for use on live animals and humans.

Further work is required on sterilising of surgical instruments and on the safety of blood transfusions.

We also believe that urgent consideration needs to be given to the possibility of cross infection in those abattoirs that handle both food animal slaughter and the culling of over thirty month animals.

There are prospects for the future development of therapies, but these will require public financial support.