Scrapie is definitively diagnosed by post-mortem testing of brain or lymphoid tissue. Live animals also can be tested for scrapie using a biopsy of tissue from the third eyelid (also known as the nictating membrane, which serves to moisten and protect the eye). However, third eyelid tests cannot definitively determine that an animal is negative for scrapie, since affected animals do not always have scrapie prions present outside of brain tissues.13

Biopsies of rectal tissue also are a promising means of detecting scrapie in the field. Research is ongoing to determine the sensitivity of rectal biopsies compared to the third eyelid test.14

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