Food Chain Crisis Management Framework

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Deadly animal virus threatens to spread to southern Africa
50 million sheep and goats at risk

A deadly viral disease which broke out in Tanzania earlier this year risks spreading to Southern Africa, posing a mortal threat to more than 50 million sheep and goats in 15 countries, FAO warned today.

Known as Peste des Petits Ruminants (Small Ruminants' Plague), or PPR, it is considered as the most destructive viral disease affecting small ruminant flocks, on par with rinderpest in cattle in the past. PPR may cause death rates of up to 100 percent in sheep and goats and although it does not infect humans, it can cause enormous socio-economic losses.

FAO issued the warning following a recent emergency mission to Tanzania by the agency’s Crisis Management Centre - Animal Health (CMC-AH).

The mission recommended that Tanzania initiate an emergency vaccination programme around the disease outbreak site in the northern half of the country and consider additional vaccination in the area bordering Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. It is important also that the latter countries immediately step up vigilance and engage in proactive surveillance.