HL Deb 15 October 1996 vol 574 c211WA
Baroness Carnegy of Lour

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In the light of recent research (The Lancet, 20th April 1996, p.114), whether they consider that mites in grass or hay might act as vectors of scrapie from infected sheep to scrapie-free sheep.

Lord Lucas

This work has been reviewed, both by Ministry experts and by SEAC at its meeting on 5th September. A number of scientific questions have been raised about the validity of the experiment and until these are answered the significance of the results remains unclear. The experiment relates solely to the alleged demonstration that hay mite material injected into mice could cause scrapie and there is no evidence in the paper that hay mites can act as a vector for the natural spread of scrapie under farming conditions. We understand that further work is under way to validate the original findings. The Government are also considering proposals for research in this area.