The Road to PPR Eradication
Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) is a viral disease that is also known as sheep and goat plague. It is a highly contagious animal disease that affects small ruminants. Classical signs of the disease include fever, heavy nasal discharge, sores in the mouth, diarrhea and pneumonia. It has close similarities to Rinderpest and Foot and Mouth Disease, therefore it is important to fully confirm the disease in a laboratory.
The disease is transmitted to an uninfected animal through close contact, movement and inhalation of coughing and sneezing droplets with an infected animal . Once it is introduced to a herd, the virus can spread and infect up to 90 percent of the total herd, and kill anywhere from 30 to 70 percent of infected animals. The PPR virus does not infect humans but it causes great financial and economic loss to farmers and animal-owners taking care of the affected ruminants. Since sheep and goats are major animals that are cared for by the world’s poorest, the presence of this disease affects the livelihood of these people and further plunges them into poverty.
The disease currently occurs in a total of 76 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia and many countries are at risk of the disease being introduced. These affected regions are mostly developing countries and are home to approximately 1.7 billion sheep and goats which is about of their global population. Therefore, developing countries where these diseases are mostly endemic and which have a large population of the world’s poorest are at high risk of a vicious cycle of animal health challenges, poverty and poor livelihood
FAO’s standard recommendation for PPR prevention and control include restricted animal movement, institution of quarantine on affected or suspect farms, and medical prophylaxis (vaccination around field outbreaks and in high risk areas). So, when the disease appears in a previously unaffected area, the standard disease control measures include quarantine, control of movement within and outside farms and sanitary slaughter. This control methods are not usually well accepted by animal owners in Nigeria due to the predicted economic losses and the lack of reinforcement by the supervising government officials and institutions.
The virus is susceptible to most disinfectants so cleaning and disinfection should also be applied. There are no medications available to treat the disease, but supportive treatment may decrease deaths and help sick animals recover fastser. A vaccine is used where the disease is established and it provides good immunity.
Eradication by 2030
Currently, FAO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) are mobilizing the international community to join efforts in the fight to eradicate PPR by 2030. This is a new global health initiative established in 2015 FAO’s ultimate goal is to facilitate the eradication PPR and to sustainably improve small ruminant production in order to benefit food and nutrition security and strengthen the livelihood resilience of rural women and men. The two organizations will lead and coordinate the global efforts of governments, regional organizations, research institutions, funding partners and livestock owners to rid the world of this destructive animal disease.
It is very important that to meet these goals, all stakeholders involved including, veterinary doctors, farmers, community animal health workers, and community members themselves, work together for this purpose.
So, this is a call to everyone including farm owners, animal handlers, veterinarians, government officials, public and private sector institutions and policy makers to join the efforts on PPR eradication. Successful work in this area would promote animal health and productivity, good economic returns to animal-owners and sustainable livelihoods.
Check out this interesting infographic by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) FAO PPR Control Infographic
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Reference; FAO PPR
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