Scrapie is a fatal and progressive transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) of natural occurrence in sheep and goats. The suspicion of scrapie may be based on clinical signs; however, the detection of pathological features of the prionic protein (PrP) in target tissues is necessary to diagnose the disease. The presence of an abnormal protein form (PrPSc) in lymphoreticular and nervous tissues is an important characteristic in diagnosis. This paper reports a case of scrapie in a flock of 55 Suffolk crossbred sheep, 19 Santa Inês sheep and 21 goats in the Mato Grosso state, midwestern Brazil. The animals were euthanized after the confirmation of a scrapie case with clinical signs in a Suffolk sheep in the same farm. Samples of brainstem at the level of the obex and lymphoid issues like palatine tonsils, mesenteric lymph nodes, third eyelid fixed in formalin 10% were processed for histological examination. Histological examination with hematoxylin and eosin did not show any microscopic changes in samples. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) examination to detect anti-prion PrPSc was performed in lymphoid tissues. Scrapie diagnosis was confirmed based on IHC positive results for PrPSc in lymphoid tissues of a crossbreed goat and four Santa Inês sheep, without any clinical scrapie signs. IHC showed positive staining in at least three lymphoid germinal centers in goat mesenteric lymph node, palatine tonsil, and third eyelid samples. The mesenteric lymph node, and tonsil samples of all sheep showed positive immunostaining, and only one sheep showed positive staining in lymphoid follicles in the third eyelid. Scrapie diagnosis using IHC in fixed samples of lymphoreticular tissue is technically feasible to detect the disease in both goats and sheep, as a form of pre-clinical diagnosis. The results indicate that the herd was infected by a sheep coming from another herd where scrapie had been diagnosed before.
scrapie; prion; diseases of small ruminants; immunohistochemistry; lymphoid tissues