PPR: Keeping animal disease outbreaks outside Europe’s borders is best-served by supporting international eradication

PPR, a devastating animal disease, once on Europe’s doorstep, is now taking a footstep into the EU. Disease presence in bordering countries has an ever-present potential for spill-over into EU countries and is becoming an increasingly regular threat for Europe’s livestock farmers. As we are seeing now with the African Swine Fever outbreaks in a number of member states, the importance of implementing and maintaining appropriate surveillance and control measures to safeguard animal health could never be greater.

“Preparedness and coordination at regional and international level are essential for addressing animal diseases outbreaks, along with strengthening veterinary capacity and ensuring the necessary financing and dedicated partnerships. The EU cannot control the weather to help our drought-impacted farmers, but we can take global action on disease eradication to help our farmers protect their animals’ health,” commented Roxane Feller about the Global Conference on Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) hosted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Animal Health Association in Brussels this week.

The event sees EU chiefs meeting with global leaders to reaffirm international political commitment to the global eradication of PPR, a highly contagious disease affecting sheep and goats that can kill up to 70 percent of infected animals. Targeted for eradication by the FAO and OIE in 2016, the EU joined the partnership in October last year promising investment and engagement in the PPR Global Eradication Programme. On a worldwide scale, eradicating PPR will serve as a vital contribution to combat rural poverty while ensuring food security, as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Removing a disease threat in international regions is also a positive action for Europe in protecting its own livestock production.

Feller continued, “The work of EU reference laboratories and continued financial support play an important role in eradication and control efforts for a number of animal diseases. In the case of PPR where we have effective vaccines, supporting mass vaccination campaigns at international level can stop the spread into Europe. For diseases where there are currently no vaccines available, support of research efforts to develop new tools for preventing and controlling disease outbreaks is important. This, along with the establishment of vaccine banks can enhance preparedness, and thereby protect Europe’s animals and the livelihoods of our farmers.”

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