Experts breed ‘super sheep’

Livestock farmers in northern Greece have been provided with dozens of «super sheep» who have been specially bred to be resistant to the potentially fatal brain disease scrapie, veterinary scientists told a seminar in Thessaloniki yesterday. The 150 sheep, whose genetic makeup was monitored for years by experts from the city’s Institute of Veterinary Research, will form part of a pilot program aimed at «purifying» flocks of sheep, and eventually also goats, across the country. Sheep found to be susceptible to scrapie or already infected will be slaughtered, according to the program, which is being financed by regional funds. «It is an immediate priority to implement a national program for the creation of pools of (healthy) animals so that the Greek farming industry can be supplied with resistant animals,» experts said. Scrapie, belonging to the spongiform encephalopathy disease group, cannot be transmitted to human beings.