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Published On: Mon, Jan 7th, 2013

Kenya: Thousands of animals infected with Peste des petits ruminants

Public domain photo/Trisha M Shears via Wikimedia Commons

Public domain photo/Trisha M Shears via Wikimedia Commons

An outbreak of the viral animal disease, peste des petits ruminants (PPR), has infected some 5,000 sheep and goats in Marakwet and Baringo Districts of  the Rift Valley province of Kenya, threatening food security and possibly even neighboring countries that don’t have the disease, according to the Nairobi news source, Standard Digital News Jan. 6.

The outbreak has sent fears into people whose livelihood relies on livestock.

Marakwet District Veterinary Officer Joseph Kiyeg said at least 50 percent of the animals infected have died.

Provincial Director of Veterinary Services, Nathan Songok said the overall impact of the outbreak was devastating resulting in  huge economic loses to the affected communities.

Officials believe the disease originated from Ethiopia as a result of cross border grassing through the porous border with Turkana County.

“We’re seeing that in response to the threat of their animals contracting the disease, farmers are moving their animals away from infected villages to where so far there have been no disease outbreaks, which has been spreading the virus to healthy flocks of animals,” explained Songok.

Areas in Marakwet East and Baringo East have now recorded new cases, whose immediate symptoms include, fever, coughing and severe diarrhea, according to the report.

Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) is a highly contagious viral disease of sheep and goats. Heavy losses can be seen, especially  in goats; all of the affected animals in some herds may die.

Peste des petits ruminants virus (PPRV) is a member of the genus Morbillivirusin the family Paramyxoviridae. Four genetic lineages (lineages 1-4) have been identified.  PPRV is closely related to rinderpest virus.

Transmission of PPRV mainly occurs during close contact. Inhalation is thought to be an important route of spread. PPRV is shed in nasal and ocular secretions, saliva, urine and feces. It probably occurs in milk.

Fomites such as water, feed troughs and bedding can probably transmit PPRV for a short time, but do not remain infectious for long periods.

The incubation period can range from two to 10 days; in most cases, clinical signs appear in 2-6 days.

The symptoms of PPR are very similar to those of rinderpest: fever, anorexia, depression, nasal and ocular discharges, difficult respiration, necrotic lesions on gum, lips and tongue resulting in salivation, erosions on the nasal mucosa and finally diarrhea   The formation of small nodular skin lesions on the outside of the lips around the muzzle and the development of pneumonia during the later stages of the disease are frequently seen in PPR but not in rinderpest.

Mild cases also occur with less marked clinical symptoms and absence of one or more of the cardinal features. Morbidity up to 100 % and mortality rates between 20 and 90 % are common, except in endemic areas or when mild disease occurs.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He regularly writes about infectious disease news for Examiner.com and administers the Outbreak News section of The Global Dispatch.

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