Scientific Opinion on peste des petits ruminants
Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) is a severe viral disease of small ruminants caused by a Morbillivirus closely related to rinderpest virus. It is widespread in Africa and Asia and is currently also found in Turkey and Northern Africa. PPR is transmitted via direct contact, and the disease would mainly be transferred to infection-free areas by transport of infected animals. In the EU, it could only happen through illegal transport of animals. The risk of that depends on the prevalence in the country of origin and the number of animals illegally moved. The extent of the spread would depend mainly on the time during which it is undetected, the farm density, the frequency and distance of travel of animals. PPR has a high within-herd transmission rate, therefore contacts between flocks, e.g. through common grazing areas, should be avoided when PPR is present. If PPR enters EU areas with dense sheep population but low goat density, it may spread rapidly undetected, since goats are considered more susceptible than sheep. Effective measures in limiting the spread of PPR in the EU include prompt culling of infected herds, rapid detection, movement restriction, and disinfection. Live attenuated vaccines against PPR are available, safe and effective, and have been successfully used to control PPR epidemics, but no method exists for differentiating between infected and vaccinated animals; therefore, the development of one is recommended. Awareness-raising campaigns for farmers and veterinary staff to promote recognition of the disease should be considered. The cooperation of the EU with neighbouring countries should be encouraged to prevent the spread of PPR and other transboundary diseases.