The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a dedicated agency of the United Nations, has revealed major progress in stamping out the peste des petits ruminants (PPR) disease, also known as goat plague, which affects both wild and domestic small ruminant animals. Over the last 15 years, the disease has spread to more than 70 countries – mostly in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
This announcement from the FAO comes after PPR has threatened some 80 percent of the world’s 2.5 billion small ruminants, jeopardizing both food security and the livelihoods of some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.
PPR is a viral disease characterized by fever, oral sores, diarrhea, pneumonia and sometimes death. While cattle and several types of wild ruminants have proven susceptible, goats and sheep are most commonly afflicted.
In comparison with 2015’s more than 3,500 reports of the disease, roughly 1,200 global PPR outbreaks were recorded in 2019. The decrease is widely attributed to the impact of vaccination campaigns led and funded with support from the FAO and other partners in more than 50 countries.
The organization nevertheless pointed out the need to control the transboundary movement of the disease through preventive and control measures between neighboring countries as well as increased surveillance at a national level.
Felix Njeumi, veterinarian and PPR program coordinator with the FAO, reiterated that “Whilst PPR outbreaks have decreased significantly in recent years, the infection scope of the PPR virus, both geographical and host range, is still wide, and more needs to be done to fight the disease.”
According to the report, as of mid-2020, the global PPR program had successfully vaccinated 1.5 billion small ruminants within its first phase, which represents half of its target by the end of 2021. This achievement comes despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, which is still impacting PPR vaccinations in 2021 as the world continues to battle the pandemic.