Goats are tough, spirited animals, but they're no match for scrapie, a form of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy. Now, with a "helping hand" from science, the animals' plight could take a turn for the better. Toward that end, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and their collaborators have developed a live-animal test to detect scrapie in goats. Called the rectal mucosa biopsy test (RMBT) or rectal biopsy, the new method involves snipping a tiny piece of lymphoid tissue from the lining of an afflicted animal's rectum. A dab of local anesthetic eases the animal's discomfort, notes microbiologist Katherine O'Rourke with the ARS Animal Diseases Research Unit in Pullman, Wash.