Video transcript: Peste des Petits Ruminants could be next virus for eradication

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July 2011

Dr Michael Baron, Group Leader, Institute for Animal Health
So rinderpest was one of the worst diseases of cattle the world had ever known and has now been, as far as we can tell, complete eradicated in the world and this is an outstanding achievement. But of course, it leads on immediately to the question of what is going to be the next target and an obvious choice for this would be a very closely related disease of sheep and goats called peste des petits ruminants or PPR for short.

Video shows still pictures of a diseased goat

PPR was first identified as a separate disease in the 1940s but since then has spread through almost the whole of Africa, the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent and through into recent outbreaks even in China.

Video shows world map with colour coded countries mainly in North Africa and Asia, with different 'lineage' characteristics

There is a vaccine against PPR. It was developed here at the Institute for Animal Health. One of the problems with our vaccine is that we can distinguish between vaccinated animals and animals that have had the disease and have recovered and this is a problem. For example, if one is engaged in a large scale vaccination campaign to control disease you can't tell if there has been a sudden outbreak of disease in the same area.

Video shows a herd of tightly huddled goats

Another technology we are working on at the Institute for Animal Health is a way of helping veterinary practitioners in the field get there diagnosis more quickly for PPR and for other diseases and what we are using here is the kind of device many people will be familiar with as a pregnancy test and we have adapted that technology to use for diagnosis of disease. So the sample from the animal is placed on this small receptacle here and if the animal has the disease then a little coloured line will appear in this window.

First Dr Baron shows the dip-stick to camera, then the video shows, on a chart, examples of the indication it shows when an animal has or hasn't got the disease

Using this device in the field a sample is simply placed on this spot here and if the animal has the disease then a coloured band appears in the window within a few minutes. If the animal is free from disease then the window remains empty and that's it - a positive or a negative test for disease essentially instantly in the field, in the barn, in the paddock.