Strengthening wildlife health capacities and use of One Health can support global efforts to eradicate ‘goat plague’

A Jan 2021 editorial on the ‘Peste des petits ruminants (PPR): Generating evidence to support eradication efforts’ research topic in the Frontiers in Veterinary Science says developing wildlife health capacities in affected countries, supporting vaccination efforts and the use of a One Health approach can strengthen global efforts to control and eradicate peste des petits ruminants (PPR).

PPR, which is also known as ‘goat plague’, is a viral disease of sheep and goats that is related to rinderpest of cattle, which has been eradicated. While PPR is not a zoonotic disease, it is a contagious transboundary disease affecting the livelihoods of millions of small-scale livestock farmers, threatening food security and nearly 80% of global sheep and goats in more than 70 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

The research topic brings together findings from 16 PPR studies by more than 100 authors (research and opinion papers) on the ecology of the PPR virus and the epidemiology and control of the disease particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. It also identifies gaps in scientific knowledge and ways to enhance control and eradication strategies as some of the limiting factors in the fight against the disease.

In 2015, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) developed a global strategy to eradicate PPR by 2030. The strategy heavily relies on large-scale vaccination of sheep and goats, vaccination monitoring and disease surveillance in affected member countries, but its implementation faces several logistical constraints and knowledge gaps. The research topic notes that the gaps in the implementation of the PPR eradication strategy can be addressed through dedicated research programs that include ‘the the development of cost-effective thermotolerant vaccines.’

Barbara Wieland, principal scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), is a co-author of the editorial, which notes that ‘eradication of PPR requires researchers to continue generating evidence which supports optimizing control efforts. This includes areas in social sciences which could support acceptance of vaccination efforts.’ The authors of the editorial also note that the impact of PPR on people, and wild and domestic animals, ‘means that a One Health approach is recommended, which would strengthen system thinking around PPR control and would help the integration of disciplines and sectors.’ They also say ‘strengthening of wildlife health capacities in the affected regions and globally’ will help to eradicate the disease.

In Africa, ILRI is implementing the Epidemiology and Control of Peste des petits ruminants (ECO-PPR) research project, with several partners in East and West Africa and in collaboration with French Agricultural Research and International Cooperation organization (CIRAD) and the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) to support initiatives towards eradicating PPR.

Bryony Jones, a joint research fellow from the RVC, University of London, and visiting scientist at ILRI, highlights the diversity of the research in this collection of papers, which include results from participatory studies of livestock keeper decision-making about vaccination to molecular analysis of the circulating virus. She says it is important that future research supports all aspects of the global PPR eradication program for more effective surveillance and vaccination. ‘Successful elimination of PPR virus will benefit the food security and livelihoods of livestock keepers, improve animal welfare, and protect biodiversity by preventing the disease in susceptible endangered wild species such as Saiga antelopes.’

Francois Roger, director at CIRAD says ‘controlling PPR is like managing a complex health system: we need to address this major disease through an integrated approach which includes One Health.’ In this regard, development projects funded by the European Union, such as the Livestock Disease Surveillance Knowledge Integration (LIDISKI) aim to improve livestock disease surveillance and control in Nigeria through systemic approach. He adds that there is a strong need of research for supporting the global strategy for PPR eradication, under the umbrella of the Global Research and Expertise Network (PPR GREN).

For more information:

Read the full publication (all the papers) here , an e-book with all the papers (16) will be soon available on the editor website.

Download the manual on the Epidemiology and Control of Peste des Petits Ruminants (Eco-PPR) study design and toolbox: A suite of tools towards understanding epidemiology and socio-economic impact of peste des petits ruminants

Eradication of Peste des petits ruminants disease in sight. 13 Jan 2021,