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Breakthrough for global eradication of Peste des Petits Ruminants
Current PPR eradication strategy is reliant on mass vaccination campaigns.
Researchers identify production systems as viral reservoirs 

Researchers at the RVC have made a significant breakthrough in the global eradication of Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR), a highly contagious disease that affects goats and sheep.

The team found the most effective way of eliminating the disease would be through repeated vaccination campaigns that target production systems acting as viral reservoirs.

“Identifying high-risk populations and tailoring vaccination strategies to local epidemiological contexts is essential,” explained Dr Guillaume Fournié, a senior research fellow at the RVC. “This would not only reduce the cost of PPR eradication but also increase the likelihood of success by setting more achievable vaccination coverages.”

PPR is a deadly disease that threatens the livelihood of farmers across Africa, Asia and the Middle-east. After the successful eradication of smallpox in humans and rinderpest in cattle, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and the World Organisation for Animal Health launched global efforts to eradicate PPR within the next 15 years.

Current PPR eradication strategy is reliant on mass vaccination campaigns. And while a vaccine that provides complete immunity does exist, it is expensive and difficult to administer due to a lack of access to small ruminant flocks and accurate census data.

In the study, researchers simulated the spread of PPR in Ethiopia using a dynamic model combined with the results of a nationwide serological survey. Armed with this knowledge, they were then able to single out the pastoral production system as a reservoir of infection from which the virus could spread.

The team could then estimate the vaccination coverage that would be needed to suppress viral transmission.

“PPR causes huge economic losses and a very large number of families in low- and middle-income countries are at risk of losing their livelihoods, food security and employment,” said Dr François Roger from The Agricultural Research Centre for International Development, who initiated the study.

“Considering the limited budgets allocated to the control of PPR and the numerous field constraints, decision effective making-tools are essential”.

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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”