FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Training helps prevention, control, and eradication of a contagious small ruminant disease

At a three-day FAO workshop starting today, nine countries around the Black Sea basin learn risk-based approaches to prevent, control, and eradicate Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR), a highly contagious animal disease affecting sheep and goats.

The virtual event incorporates information on the disease, its epidemiology, risk factors and management, risk analysis and mapping, the importance of national animal identification and tracing systems, as well as the process for obtaining official PPR-free status from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). Representatives of the nine participating countries will also rank risk factors for a possible PPR occurrence and familiarize themselves with the staged approach of the PPR Global Control and Eradication Strategy.

Peste des Petits Ruminants affects livelihoods, food and nutritional security by hampering social and economic stability in rural areas,” said Daniel Beltran-Alcrudo, FAO technical advisor on animal health. “The disease is currently present in Central Asia and Turkey, while other countries should take preventive measures and prepare for a potential incursion. This workshop is a step towards that.”

Participants include national PPR coordinators, epidemiologists, livestock development officers, and laboratory coordinators from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, Turkey, and Ukraine. These countries are also part of an FAO research project implemented in collaboration with the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain, that aims to identify risk factors and areas in the Black Sea basin at a higher risk of a spread of five ruminant diseases, including PPR, and, thus, support better and more resource-efficient decision-making on disease mitigation activities.

“The workshop was designed specifically to meet training needs identified by countries, fill gaps in risk analysis and mapping, and help countries progress towards becoming officially recognized as free of Peste des Petits Ruminants,” added Camilla Benfield, from the Joint FAO–OIE PPR Secretariat.

The curricula of the workshop was also developed to support the realization of the PPR Global Control and Eradication Strategy, which foresees the eradication of the disease by 2030, as well as strengthening veterinary services and reducing the impact of other major infectious diseases of small ruminants. As part of that, the stepwise process was presented at the event to decrease epidemiological risk levels and increase prevention and control through four stages: the assessment, control, eradication, and maintenance of PPR-free status.

Peste des Petits Ruminants, often called sheep and goat plague, threatens about 80 percent of the global small ruminant population. Once introduced, the virus can infect up to 90 percent of a herd and kill anywhere from 30–70 percent of infected animals. The PPR virus does not infect humans.

31 January 2021, Budapest, Hungary