In September 1998, Iraq reported an outbreak of peste des petits ruminants (PPR) in its northern governorates to OIE and FAO. Although this disease had been suspected in the central and northern governorates for several years, and was known to be present in neighbouring countries, this was the first official report of PPR in the country and caused great concern. PPR is a serious disease economically, and its transboundary nature could compromise control programmes for both PPR and rinderpest in neighbouring countries. Owing to the international sanctions imposed on Iraq, the Iraqi veterinary authorities had few resources to cope with this highly contagious disease of small ruminants.
The Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture requested FAO's assistance in controlling PPR. In 1999, an FAO TCP project was implemented to help eliminate the disease through focused vaccination, to establish and strengthen laboratory-assisted surveillance, to enhance the diagnostic capacity of field veterinary staff and to form a national network for surveillance and early warning systems against transboundary animal diseases. Vaccines, laboratory equipment and other materials were supplied, and two consultants, Dr Samir Hafez and Dr Adama Diallo, travelled to Iraq to assist in these tasks in late 1999. The consultants conducted workshops on laboratory methods in Baghdad, and on PPR recognition and control in 12 governorates.
The extent of PPR in Iraq was not well defined prior to the project, and still needs more investigation. However, information exchange during the consultancies has led to awareness building and an increased understanding of the situation:
The outbreak of PPR in 1998 was temporarily controlled in the affected areas, and the level of awareness and capability to discover and control new outbreaks has been increased during the TCP project. It was recommended not to carry out a countrywide mass vaccination until a better knowledge of the PPR infection has been obtained. A serosurveillance campaign for PPR was initiated in December by the Director-General of the Iraqi State Board for Veterinary Services. It is hoped that this campaign will shed light on the distribution of PPR in the remaining parts of the country.
In September 1999, an outbreak of PPR in goats in Elazig Province in eastern Anatolia was reported by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Ankara, to the International Office of Epizootics (OIE). This was the first outbreak of PPR in Turkey ever reported to OIE.
A total of 47 goats were affected with six reported dead. No sheep were reported to be affected. The diagnosis was based on clinical, post-mortem and laboratory diagnoses. The disease was suspected to be related to movements of animals from the east. An emergency ring vaccination using homologous PPR vaccine was initiated. Subsequently, in January 2000, two new reports of PPR were sent by the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs to OIE. These two locations are situated in different parts of the country: Isparta in the west and Mardin in eastern Anatolia. Affecting sheep only on this occasion, 416 cases and 38 deaths were reported. No information has been received regarding control actions and follow-up of these incidents.