A new method for detecting peste des petits ruminants virus (PPRV) in the field has been developed by scientists at The Pirbright Institute. The novel diagnostic test is as reliable as laboratory tests, provides rapid results and is easy to use in the field. These features will help improve surveillance for the disease, which infects small livestock animals such as goats and sheep, and will aid the global eradication campaign to eliminate peste des petit ruminants (PPR) by 2030.
Rapid diagnosis is essential in order to identify infected animals to ensure appropriate control measures, such as emergency vaccination and movement restrictions, are put in place as quickly as possible to prevent further transmission. Currently PPR diagnosis must be verified in designated laboratories and although the methods used are accurate and sensitive, they can be costly and time-consuming. The sample transportation process can also delay disease confirmation and cause sample deterioration, making diagnosis more difficult.
The new field diagnostic test, described in the journal Viruses, overcomes these drawbacks by being portable, rapid and accurate, allowing samples to be processed at the animal pen-side without an RNA extraction step. It can also detect the presence of PPRV in a wide range of samples including blood, tissues, nasal, saliva and ocular swabs, milk and faeces. The test needs further validation with field samples for use during outbreak situations, but the results so far are extremely promising.
“This test provides a distinct advantage over the current lab procedures available for PPR diagnosis” said Professor Satya Parida, Head of the Vaccine Differentiation Group at Pirbright. “Our accurate pen-side test is easy to use and will enable vets and farmers to process samples far more quickly, which in turn could help prevent the spread of the disease by allowing rapid action to be taken by authorities.”
PPR is estimated to result in annual losses of US$1.5-2billion across regions in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, where over 330 million of the world’s poorest people live, most of whom are reliant on sheep and goats for their livelihoods. PPR is therefore a serious issue for animal health, and economic and food security. This new field test could therefore make a significant contribution to the PPR eradication campaign, the success of which is vital for both animal and human welfare.