§ Mr. Blizzard
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what research his Department has(a) carried out and (b) evaluated on spongiform encephalopathy in (i) cats and (ii) dogs. 
§ Mr. Rooker
Apart from their inclusion in studies of the PrP gene sequences of species that are apparently resistant to BSE, MAFF has no specific programme of research on spongiform encephalopathies in canines. A survey carried out in 1990/91 on the brains of hounds culled for a variety of reasons from packs in all parts of Britain found no conclusive evidence of spongiform change. The outcome was, however, hampered by the fact that the majority of the 444 brains examined did not come from animals that were suffering from neurological disease.
With respect to cats, MAFF receives notifications of diagnoses of spongiform encephalopathy in domestic and exotic felidae. In collaboration with colleagues in universities and other institutes, MAFF scientists have 549W defined lesion profiles and methodology for confirmation of diagnosis. Epidemiological analyses are also in progress.