Deadly livestock disease continues to spread across world

Georgia recently reported its first-ever case of ovine rinderpest, also known as ovine rinderpest, while a new outbreak has occurred in the Maldives

By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 28 April 2016

Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR), a livestock disease which severely affects goats and sheep, is continuing to spread across the world and has already hit 76 countries.

Georgia recently reported its first-ever case of PPR, also known as ovine rinderpest, while a new outbreak has occurred in the Maldives.

Experts from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) have recommended control measures which include vaccination of 800,000 sheep and goats. Quarantine zones have been created and surveillance of animals in the adjacent regions intensified.

The outbreaks—coming on the heels of similar episodes in western Turkey and mainland China—the risks posed by a virus that can kill as many as 90 per cent of the animals it infects within days.

In the past 20 years, PPR has spread rapidly, mostly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, which are home to some 80 per cent of the world’s 2.1 billion small ruminants.

Sheep and goats are critical assets for poor rural households as the animals provide protein, milk, fertilizers, wool and fibre.

The disease causes more than $ 2 billion in losses each year. Beyond the lost economic value, sick animals add to food insecurity faced by the more than 300 million vulnerable households who raise sheep and goats in the affected regions.

A year ago in Cote d’Ivoire, authorities from 15 countries endorsed a global control and eradication strategy for the disease in line with the principles of the successful campaign that led to the global elimination of rinderpest, a similar disease affecting cattle.

The campaign

In line with the recommendations of the Abidjan conference, the FAO and the OIE have established a joint secretariat and in April 2016 concluded consultations to develop a Global Control and Eradication Programme based on the adopted Strategy.

Regional roadmaps for the 15-year campaign are now being formulated and chief veterinary officers, epidemiologists and other experts in affected countries are being made aware of available tools to assist in their elaboration of their national campaigns.

With existing quality vaccines global eradication is technically feasible. However, delivery systems to ensure their efficacy and access by remote agropastoralist communities need to be established.

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