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Scientific Opinion on sheep and goat pox

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Sheep pox (SPP) and goat pox (GTP) are viral diseases of sheep and goats characterised by severe losses, especially in naive animals. SPP and GTP are endemic in many African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries, with recurrent epidemics in Greece and Bulgaria, as in 2013–2014. The main mode of SPP/GTP transmission is direct contact between animals, but, since the virus can survive in the environment, indirect transmission may also occur through fomites such as human movement, vehicles, wildlife and trade of hides when insufficiently treated. According to a model developed to evaluate the spread of SPP, the probability of spread of the infection in south-eastern Europe is <1 %, while, if introduced in the Iberian Peninsula, the probability that SPP would spread is more than 50 %. The long-term survival of the SPP virus in the environment enhances the likelihood of SPP endemicity; however, this can be reduced by extensive cleaning and disinfection, and with a waiting period before re-stocking culled herds. Early detection and notification, prompt movement restriction of animals, an extension of duration and size of the protection zone and culling affected herds, based on clinical signs, are effective and time-saving control measures recommended by the AHAW Panel. Only live attenuated vaccines are available for SPP/GTP, which are not licensed within the EU and without principle for differentiating infected from vaccinated animals. The AHAW Panel recommends further investigation of potential SPP/GTP transmission through arthropods and wildlife, the survival of SPP/GTP viruses in grazing sites and in animal feed and hides and the development of inactivated vaccines. Sentinel animals could be used prior to re-stocking culled herds. Awareness-raising campaigns for farmers and veterinary staff to promote recognition of the disease should be considered. The cooperation of EU with neighbouring countries should be encouraged to prevent transboundary disease spread.