The world can definitively stamp out a plague that devastates sheep and goats, freeing hundreds of millions of rural families from one of the major risks to their food security and livelihood.

Herd of goats/Public domain image via Wikimedia commons
Herd of goats/Public domain image via Wikimedia commons

FAO and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) will outline a strategy for the total eradication of Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) by 2030 at a an international conference starting today in Abidjan, the capital of Cote d’Ivoire, where so-called goat plague was first diagnosed in the 1940s.

PPR has expanded rapidly in the past 15 years, is now present in around 70 countries across South and East Asia, Africa and the Middle East and if left uncontrolled will likely make inroads into Europe (acc to FAO/OIE advocacy doc).  If flocks are not vaccinated, it can kill as many as 90 percent of the animals it infects.

Until now, rinderpest is the only animal disease to have been eradicated. FAO and OIE led the campaign and declared that catastrophic cattle plague, the cause of famines and the collapse of empires, effectively extinct in 2011.

“If the major achievement of eradicating rinderpest can be replicated for another major transboundary animal disease such as PPR, the positive impact on the livelihoods of farmers and food and nutrition security for all communities, Sustainable Development Goals and the United Nations’ Zero Hunger Challenge will be substantial,,” said FAO Assistant Director-General for Africa Bukar Tijani at the start of the FAO and OIE International Conference for the Control and Eradication of PPR (31 March-2 April 2015).

“It is of utmost importance for the success of the PPR control and eradication campaign to count on robust and well-resourced veterinary services and vaccines that comply with the international standards of the OIE” said OIE Director General Bernard Vallat.

Read the full FAO news release HERE