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PPR investigation and diagnosis training for animal health experts from the major regions
20/06/2016

Actions to eliminate peste des petits ruminants (PPR) have been rolled out in the major regions

20 June 2016, Ethiopia - The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is implementing a progressive control program against Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) in the lowlands of Ethiopia. Under the EU funded-project “Pursuing Pastoral Resilience through improved animal health service delivery in pastoral areas of Ethiopia”, efforts aiming at building the capacity of the federal, regional state and woreda level public veterinary services are underway, while models of a public private partnership are being tested.

Peste des petits ruminants is a highly contagious viral disease affecting sheep and goats that causes global losses from USD 1.45 billion to USD 2.1 billion each year. PPR is endemic in most of the lowlands of Ethiopia and frequent outbreaks in the highlands. A survey conducted in Siti Zone of Somali Region indicated that in areas where the disease is endemic, PPR is causing an annual mortality of about 10 percent among the young goats. The adult population is largely protected, either due to recovery from natural infection or due to vaccination.  PPR has been categorized by pastoralists as the number one killer of goats and to a lesser extend sheep in the lowland pastoral areas of Ethiopia. As the animal disease reporting system in the pastoral areas is not well established, small ruminant mortality figures are not well documented.   

Elimination of PPR infection as the most sustainable way

The Ethiopian Government’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) indicates that the biggest return for money is to reduce youngstock mortality in goats, sheep, cattle, goats and camels. Pursuing Pastoral Resilience project expects to achieve an improved understanding of animal disease status in pastoral areas combined with improved and sustainable capacity to implement animal disease control. It ultimately leads to a reduced morbidity and mortality related to PPR among the small ruminant population owned by the pastoral communities of Afar, Amhara, Oromia, SNNP, Somali and Tigray Regional States.

“While global eradication of PPR is targeted for 2030, Ethiopia in principle has set 2025 as a target for the elimination of PPR virus after which it will take a few years to verify its absence,” says Gijs van’t Klooster, International Animal Health Expert and the Team Leader of the Project. Elimination is the most sustainable way and that is why we go for this, he added. Elimination of the PPR from the country demonstrates that Ethiopia has a veterinary service that is capable to controlling animal diseases which in turn will contribute to the export trade.     

Search, Find, and Eliminate 

As a strategy, Ethiopia uses several tools simultaneously to achieve progressive, namely early detection of PPR disease with focussed vaccination and where possible movement control to achieve area-wide elimination of infection. Participatory disease search (for PPR) teams have been set up at regional levels equipped with the required material and skills to do the disease investigation, sample collection and forwarding. Branch Coordination offices are set up to oversee the focused PPR vaccination programs that target to achieve near 100 percent coverage. Mr Gijs said that it started by conducting a  national level training of trainers for 22 experts from regional laboratories, branch coordination offices and NGOs on participatory techniques,  including interview techniques, ranking and mapping, as well as clinical examination of small ruminants, disease  investigation, and field level disease diagnosis. The trainers in turn cascaded the training down in the field to woreda level animal health staff and have now established Participatory Disease Search (PDS) Teams. The PDS teams are now conducting field investigation and have so far detected 2 foci of PPR infection. .

 “The training has provided an excellent opportunity to broaden participant’s understanding on a syndromic surveillance approach (clinical PPR disease recognition, epidemiology and pathology), disease investigation, sample collection and testing using rapid diagnostic test,” said Mr. Gijs. Syndromic surveillance is the collection and analysis of health data relating to a group of diseases that present similar clinical signs in order to detect outbreaks occurring at an early stage.

PPR is an acute, contagious, and frequently fatal disease of sheep and goats, caused by a morbillivirus related to the viruses that cause cattle rinderpest (RP) and  human measles. It is a major animal health constraint to small ruminant production in Ethiopia. Besides small ruminant mortality, it limits production, and impacts on local and export trade, which in turn affects the livelihoods of the pastoral communities. As women often own and herd sheep and goats, the animals have an important role in the achieving greater gender equity. Consequently PPR impacts greatly the livelihood of women and children.

 The disease is characterised by fever, discharges from the eyes and mouth, erosions in the mouth, bronchopneumonia and diarrhoea. The virus is multiplied in the mucosae eye, nose and mouth and intestines and is excreted in the discharges from eyes, mouth, urine and faeces. Most infections occur through direct contact, inhalation of droplets from sneezing and coughing animals or drinking water from same trough. An infected animal either dies from dehydration within 12 days (up to 80% in a virgin population) or recovers and is immunised for life.

 

Contact: Tamiru.Legesse@fao.org, FAO Ethiopia, National Communication Officer