Peste des petits ruminants virus (PPRV), also known as goat plague, is highly contagious and infects small ruminants such as sheep and goats. Cattle and pigs can be infected but don’t develop any clinical signs. The virus belongs to the Paramyxoviridae family, genus Morbillivirus and has 4 lineages. It is enveloped and has a capsid that contains a single-stranded RNA genome.
- Peste des petits ruminants is a notifiable disease and should be reported.
Please see the Defra website for advice on how to spot and report the disease.
PPRV causes disease with an array of clinical signs. It also causes immunosuppression, which makes affected animals more likely to pick up other infections.
Clinical signs of PPR:
- Eye and nasal discharges
- Sores in the mouth
- Respiratory signs (coughing and pneumonia)
- Death, with mortality rates as high as 90%
Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) is mainly spread during close contact when a susceptible animal inhales the virus from infected animals’ coughing and sneezing. Transmission can also occur indirectly through contact with infected objects (fomites) such as feed troughs, bedding etc. Sources of PPR include secretions from the eyes, nose, and mouth of infected animals, as well as their faeces.
The disease is widespread in many parts of the world including large parts of Africa, the Middle East and India and is spreading into other countries, including a recent large outbreak in China.
Impact for Society – what are we doing?
There are vaccines available for PPR and work at The Pirbright Institute is ongoing to improve current diagnostics and vaccines. This work is very important and will assist in the control and eradication of this economically important disease of sheep and goats. Current research is looking into how the viral proteins of PPRV block host defence mechanisms, development of a vaccine against PPRV and improved diagnostic tools for field use.