DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ore. — Around 300 sheep in Douglas County are being euthanized after the Department of Agriculture found they were at a high risk for a deadly sheep disease. It’s a disease known to be deadly to sheep called Scrapie that’s back in Oregon for the first time in five years.
“Scrapie is not a public health threat nor is it a food safety issue,” said Dr. Brad LeaMaster, Oregon’s State Veterinarian. Dr. LeaMaster said the illness is the sheep equivalent to Mad Cow Disease. It effects the neurological system of older sheep, but unlike Mad Cow, it’s not a threat to humans.
“It’s never, never been reported to be a diseasse that can infect people,: said LeaMaster. But this disease is a large concern for farmers. That’s why the U.S. Department of Agriculture steps in to help the control of the disease through money allocated into a federal program.
When sheep go through slaughter, they are always tested for Scrapie. That’s how the state found out about this recent Douglas County Case. “The slaughter sample was taken in June and we were notified of this positive result at the end of August,” said LeaMaster.
Now 300 sheep on one farm are at risk for contracting the disease and are being killed. “We don’t know if they’re infected yet, so we know they’re high risk,” said LeaMaster.
That risk is worrying area farmers concerned for their own livestock. KEZI 9 News received multiple calls from farmers in the Roseburg area who wanted to stay anonymous. It’s unclear which farm is being investigated, but the Department of Agriculture confirms this case is in Douglas County.
State officials said the next step will be finding where the infected sheep came from and if any other local farms have sheep from the same blood line who are at risk for Scrapie.