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Open Access Research article

Individual factors associated with L- and H-type Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in France

Carole Sala1*, Eric Morignat1, Nadia Oussaïd1, Emilie Gay1, David Abrial2, Christian Ducrot2 and Didier Calavas1

Author Affiliations

1 ANSES-Lyon, 31 avenue Tony Garnier, Lyon cedex 7, 69364, France

2 INRA-Theix, Lyon cedex 7, 69364, France

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BMC Veterinary Research 2012, 8:74  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-74

Published: 30 May 2012

Abstract

Background

Cattle with L-type (L-BSE) and H-type (H-BSE) atypical Bovine Spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) were identified in 2003 in Italy and France respectively before being identified in other countries worldwide. As of December 2011, around 60 atypical BSE cases have currently been reported in 13 countries, with over one third in France. While the epidemiology of classical BSE (C-BSE) has been widely described, atypical BSEs are still poorly documented, but appear to differ from C-BSE. We analysed the epidemiological characteristics of the 12 cases of L-BSE and 11 cases of H-BSE detected in France from January 2001 to late 2009 and looked for individual risk factors. As L-BSE cases did not appear to be homogeneously distributed throughout the country, two complementary methods were used: spatial analysis and regression modelling. L-BSE and H-BSE were studied separately as both the biochemical properties of their pathological prion protein and their features differ in animal models.

Results

The median age at detection for L-BSE and H-BSE cases was 12.4 (range 8.4-18.7) and 12.5 (8.3-18.2) years respectively, with no significant difference between the two distributions. However, this median age differed significantly from that of classical BSE (7.0 (range 3.5-15.4) years). A significant geographical cluster was detected for L-BSE. Among animals over eight years of age, we showed that the risk of being detected as a L-BSE case increased with age at death. This was not the case for H-BSE.

Conclusion

To the best of our knowledge this is the first study to describe the epidemiology of the two types of atypical BSE. The geographical cluster detected for L-BSE could be partly due to the age structure of the background-tested bovine population. Our regression analyses, which adjusted for the effect of age and birth cohort showed an age effect for L-BSE and the descriptive analysis showed a particular age structure in the area where the cluster was detected. No birth cohort effect was evident. The relatively small number of cases of atypical BSE and the few individual data available for the tested population limited our analysis to the investigation of age and cohort effect only. We conclude that it is essential to maintain BSE surveillance to further elucidate our findings.

Keywords:
Atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy; L-BSE; H-BSE; Spatial analysis; Risk factors; France