PPR virus outbreak in Zimbabwe threatens Zambian small stock

The Zimbabwean government had asked for more vigilant border controls to stop the spread of the PPR (Peste des petits ruminants) virus in Zimbabwe, and to countries outside its borders, according to a recent report in The Zimbabwe Herald. PPR can cause between 20% and 90% mortality in an infected flock.

According to Paddy Zhanda, Zimbabwe’s deputy minister of agriculture, lack of security on the borders are cause for concern, especially with regard to the movement of small ruminants like sheep and goats. The outbreak started in Makumbura, near the Zambian border, and was spreading fast, Zhanda said. A major problem was that farmers ignored protocols and procedures for disease control which led to “goats dying in devastating numbers,” The Herald reported.

PPR is marked by noticeable depression and rapid onset of fever (2 to 4 days post infection) with temperatures reaching 40°C and 41°C. The eyes, nose and mouth give off a clear, watery discharge and the animal has obvious respiratory difficulty. A foul smelling diarrhoea is also part of the complex of symptoms.

Prevention is better than infection and advance notice gives livestock farmers the opportunity to put disease control systems in place. Because PPR is a highly contagious disease, transmitted by contact with the secretions of infected animals and the inhalation of infected airborne droplets, the sooner farmers take action the better. Preventive action includes banning movement, containing sheep and goats to minimise contact with other flocks, banning trade between farmers and at markets and excluding buying in of new animals.

The Zimbabwe Herald 17 October 2016; FAO Field Manual, Recognising Pestes des Ruminants. Dr P.L. Roeder & Prof T.U. Obi

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