Rinderpest of small ruminants (Peste des petits ruminants) - a disease risk to small stock that is creeping closer
24 Apr 2012
Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) is a highly contagious viral disease of predominantly goats, but also sheep and some captive wild ruminant species. This disease is of increasing importance in Africa where there is heavy reliance on subsistence farming for food supply. During 2009 PPR outbreaks were reported in Tanzania, leaving only one country, Mozambique, between a PPR affected country and South Africa.
There is therefore a serious risk that PPR may spread to South Africa. PPR does not currently occur in South Africa and our small stock herds are therefore completely susceptible to this disease. The virus spreads by means of aerosol, as well as objects whereby the virus may be transmitted from one animal to another.
All animals in a flock may be affected during a PPR outbreak, and between 20 to 90% of animals may die. Clinical signs include:
- Fever, depression, loss of appetite;
- Discharges of the nose and eyes that are clear, but become yellow (purulent) due to secondary bacterial infections;
- Crusting around the nose resulting in the blocking of nostrils and difficulty in breathing;
- Matting together of the eyelids;
- Reddened mucous membranes of the eyes and mouth, followed by the development of ulcers on the gums, dental pad, palate, lips, inner sides of the cheeks, and the top of the tongue;
- Salivation with a bad smelling breath;
- Diarrhoea that starts off as soft faeces that becomes watery, bad smelling, with blood streaks and dead pieces of the lining of the intestines;
- Pneumonia that presents as an increased breathing rate, outstretched neck and head, nostrils that are widely opened, a tongue that hangs out of the mouth, abnormal breathing sounds, and coughing;
- Later in the disease, raised skin lesions develop on the lips and around the muzzle;
- Abortion (loss of pregnancy); and
- Death within seven to ten days.
Effective control of PPR, should this viral disease spread to South Africa, will only be possible if the disease is quickly diagnosed and control measures are put in place to prevent the spread of the disease. If any of your small stock shows any of the above signs, immediately contact your private veterinarian or state veterinarian. The veterinarians will assist in taking samples from both live and dead animals in order to diagnose the cause of the clinical signs.
Dr Sunelle Strydom (BVSc)
Sub-directorate of Epidemiology, Directorate Animal Health, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Issued by: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
24 Apr 2012
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