Med. Weter. 2019, 75 (8), 459-464

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Occurrence of peste des petits ruminants and its increasing threat to Europe
Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) is a highly contagious disease of small ruminants that leads to high morbidity and mortality, and thereby results in devastating economic consequences to the livestock industry. It is caused by the PPR virus (PPRV), which belongs to the genus Morbilivirus in the family Paramyxoviridae. PPR was first recorded in early 1942 in Ivory Coast, West Africa. In the following years, the disease extended its distribution to other parts of the world and now circulates throughout Northern, Eastern and West Africa, as well as Asia – in particular, China, Central Asia, Eurasia, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East. The molecular epidemiology of PPRV, based on the sequence comparison of a small region of either the N or the F gene, has revealed the existence of four distinct lineages (I-IV) of the virus. Until June 2018, PPR had never been detected in Europe, with the exception of the European part of Turkish Thrace. However, on 24th June 2018 the Bulgarian authorities reported cases of PPR in sheep in the village of Voden, Bolyarovo municipality of Yambol region, on the border with the Thrace region of Turkey. It was the first occurrence of PPR in Bulgaria and in the European Union (EU). The source of PPR infection in Bulgaria is not clear, it could have been the illegal movement of animals, contaminated materials or humans, e.g. refuges. Due to the increased risk of introduction of PPR from North Africa and Turkey to neighbouring regions, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has recently published a report assessing the risk of PPR spreading in Europe. According to a scientific opinion by the EFSA, the spread of PPRV in the territory of the UE could occur by the illegal transport of infected animals or infected animal products. In order to limit the spread and impact of PPR outbreaks in Europe, rapid detection, movement restriction, prompt culling of infected herds and disinfection measures should be introduced immediately. The control and eventual eradication of PPR is now one of the top priorities for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). In 2015, the international community agreed on a global strategy for PPR eradication, setting 2030 as a target date for elimination of the disease.
Keywords: peste des petits ruminants, global occurrence, threat to Europe