By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) announced today the number of outbreaks of Peste des petits ruminants (PPR), also known as sheep and goat plague, fell by two-thirds in recent years globally, ever closer to the goal of global eradication by 2030.

Public domain image/Titus Tscharntke

Just over 1,200 global PPR outbreaks were recorded in 2019 (latest data available) compared to more than 3,500 in 2015 according to new data from the FAO and partners.

The decrease in PPR outbreaks is attributed to the impact of vaccination campaigns in more than 50 countries. The campaigns were led and funded by countries with support from FAO and partners. In just 12 of these countries, over 300 million goats and sheep were vaccinated between 2015 and 2018.

Two regions have been the worst hit by PPR, and reported the majority of outbreaks between 2015-2019 – Asia over 75 percent and Africa over 24 percent, although the disease may also be underreported. Nearly half of all outbreaks in this period occurred in only five countries, highlighting the urgent need for strengthening prevention and control mechanisms.

PPR has spread at an alarming rate over the last 15 years; more than 70 countries – mostly in Asia, Africa and Middle East – have reported the disease since it was first identified in Côte d’Ivoire in the 1940s. At its worst, the disease threatens to infect up to 80 percent of the world’s 2.5 billion small ruminants if not controlled, putting enormous pressure on some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

PPR can be deadly for animals – with a 30-70 percent fatality rate – but it does not infect people. That said, PPR has major effects on people due to the severe impact of PPR on food security, community resilience and livelihoods.

Although it was first considered as a rinderpest-like disease of small domestic ruminants, in the recent past, PPR has also infected camels, cattle, water buffalo and a range of wildlife species – from the African buffalo to the saiga antelope in Asia.