Published Date: 2012-06-05 17:59:46
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Peste des petits ruminants - Congo DR: FAO
Archive Number: 20120605.1157318
PESTE DES PETITS RUMINANTS - DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: FAO
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International Society for Infectious Diseases
[There is a correction of this report: Peste des petits ruminants - Congo DR: FAO, correction 20120606.1157857]
Date: 2 Jun 2012
Source: ILRI Clippings [summ., edited]
A livestock plague is killing Congo's goats and sheep
Voice of America is reporting on a new livestock epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The highly contagious viral disease is known as 'peste des petits ruminants,' or PPR for short, sometimes as 'ovine rinderpest,' and more commonly as sheep and goat plague.
In one territory where figures were collected -- Massima Nimba in Bandundu province -- the authorities say about 25 000 goats have died of the disease and another 5000 from infected herds have been slaughtered during the past 6 months.
'The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's [FAO] DRC representative, Diaga Gaye, says this is the worst livestock epidemic in more than 10 years in the country.
'Ovine rinderpest, also known as PPR, cannot be transmitted to humans. But it is serious for the population, says Dr. Lemba Mabela, the head of Congo's veterinary service.
Dr. Mabela says goats are the poor man's cows. And every financial problem the poor have, whether it is a problem with the chief, or with the administration or a marriage problem, is settled with goats.
'Ovine rinderpest was 1st confirmed in the DRC in 2008, although it had long been suspected. Experts at the veterinary service say as soon as farmers see the symptoms, which include diarrhea, a running nose and hair sticking up, they often dispose of the sick animals and drive the rest to other villages -- spreading the disease.
'The government has for the 1st time asked for FAO help with a mass vaccination campaign.
'"We have to combine vaccination and information and sensitization of people so that they understand there is no need to try to escape the disease simply by transferring animals from an infected area to a safe area," Gaye said. "On the contrary, they will just contribute to disseminating the disease."
'The government declared the epidemic only 2 weeks ago and is still discussing with the FAO what can be done. The FAO has agreed to contribute USD 500 000 for free vaccinations of half a million goats around Massima Nimba, starting next month [July 2012].
The vaccine will cost about 50 cents per animal, but there are other costs, including transport, freezers and paying the personnel. The Food and Agriculture Organization says the USD 500 000 is just an initial response and much more funding will be needed.'
A 2011 editorial in an issue of the Veterinary Record, which included a comprehensive review of this disease, had this to say: 'Until relatively recently PPR was considered to be a parochial disease of west Africa; however, its range is now recognized to affect most of sub-Saharan Africa as well as a swathe of countries from Turkey through the Middle East to south Asia with recent alarming extensions into north Africa, central Asian countries and China. Capable of causing very high mortality in susceptible goat herds and sheep flocks, PPR exerts a major economic impact on farmers and their families dependent on small ruminants. There is a growing appreciation that PPR is a most serious constraint to the livelihoods of farming families and to food security in affected countries and that its control warrants significant investment. An additional concern is the lethal nature of PPR infection in wildlife species, many of which are endangered or threatened, including gazelles and mountain caprines.'
Jeffrey Mariner, who heads development of a thermo-stable vaccine for PPR at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), says a vaccine in production against PPR offers lifelong immunity but requires refrigeration, making it of limited use in remote Africa. Mariner is working on development of a vaccine effective at room temperature, which would significantly reduce the cost of vaccination and make it more accessible to more remote areas of Africa.
[Byline: Susan MacMillan]
[According to Congo's annual report to the OIE for 2011, 44 outbreaks of PPR were recorded, involving 2504 susceptible animals: 1365 cases and 744 deaths. 53 328 animals were "routinely" vaccinated and 26 917 "ring vaccinated" (around disease foci). - Mod.AS
A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map can be accessed at: http://healthmap.org/r/1Ahz.]