India develops PPR vaccine

Against sheep and goat plague

Published: Sunday 31 July 2005

Safe existence ensured scientists at the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (ivri) in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, have developed the country's first vaccine against the notorious peste des petits ruminants (ppr) disease that afflicts sheep and goats. Also known as sheep and goat plague, ppr epidemics occur every year in India, causing an annual loss of about Rs 180 crore. The disease causes death in more than half the animals affected due to high fever, pneumonia, diarrhoea and dehydration.

The vaccine costs Rs 2 per dosage, has a shelf life of more than one year at 4c and provides immunity for three years. Field trials show that the vaccine is safe for use even in pregnant animals. It has been developed after three years of lab research at ivri's research station at Mukhteshwar in Uttaranchal followed by three years of trials all over the country. ivri released the first batch of 5,00,000 vaccines for Uttar Pradesh in May, 2005. The vaccine is now being produced in several states including Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Haryana and Karnataka.

ivri has applied for a patent for its vaccine. Its findings have been accepted for publication in the French journal, Comparative Immunology, Microbiology, Infectious Diseases .

"This is an effective live modified (weakened) indigenous freeze-dried vaccine using ppr virus of Asian lineage," says ivri director M P Yadav. "The exact virus strain involved is called sungri strain, which is named after the place in Himachal Pradesh from where the virus was extracted," says R K Singh, who led the team of scientists that developed the vaccine. Singh also heads ivri 's division of virology.

ppr disease used to be effectively controlled by a broad-spectrum rinderpest vaccine used for all ruminants, including bovines. But in 1999, the Paris-based Office International des Epizooties, an authority on certifying animal disease prevalence and eradication, declared India as a rinderpest-free country. In the absence of rinderpest vaccine, the Indian scientists started working on developing a vaccine specifically for ppr .

Says Yadav, "This is a successful venture involving only a Rs 40-lakh investment." The world's first ppr vaccine was developed in the late 1990s by African animal virologist, Adma Dillo, who used a virus of African lineage. That vaccine, however, is not very effective in Indian conditions.

Meanwhile, M S Shaila of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore had developed an edible ppr vaccine in 2004, which is still under field trials. Her team genetically modified peanut plants to produce one of the coat proteins of the ppr virus (Vaccine, July 4, 2003, Vol 21, No 23). The Tamil Nadu University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences is also working on the development of two ppr vaccines using coimbatore and arasur strains of the virus.

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