Review of peste des petits ruminants occurrence and spread in Tanzania

07 Jun 2021
Mdetele DP, Komba E, Seth MD, Misinzo G, Kock R and Jones BA

Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) is an important transboundary animal disease of domestic small ruminants, camels, and wild artiodactyls. The disease has significant socio-economic impact on communities that depend on livestock for their livelihood and is a threat to endangered susceptible wild species. The aim of this review was to describe the introduction of PPR to Tanzania and its subsequent spread to different parts of the country. On-line databases were searched for peer-reviewed and grey literature, formal and informal reports were obtained from Tanzanian Zonal Veterinary Investigation Centres and Laboratories, and Veterinary Officers involved with PPR surveillance were contacted. PPR virus (PPRV) was confirmed in northern Tanzania in 2008, although serological data from samples collected in the region in 1998 and 2004, and evidence that the virus was already circulating in Uganda in 2003, suggests that PPRV might have been present earlier than this. It is likely that the virus which became established in Tanzania was introduced from Kenya between 2006-7 through the cross-border movement of small ruminants for trade or grazing resources, and then spread to eastern, central, and southern Tanzania from 2008 to 2010 through movement of small ruminants by pastoralists and traders. There was no evidence of PPRV sero-conversion in wildlife based on sera collected up to 2012, suggesting that they did not play a vectoring or bridging role in the establishment of PPRV in Tanzania. PPRV lineages II, III and IV have been detected, indicating that there have been several virus introductions. PPRV is now considered to be endemic in sheep and goats in Tanzania, but there has been no evidence of PPR clinical disease in wildlife species in Tanzania, although serum samples collected in 2014 from several wild ruminant species were PPRV sero-positive. Similarly, no PPR disease has been observed in cattle and camels. In these atypical hosts, serological evidence indicates exposure to PPRV infection, most likely through spillover from infected sheep and goats. Some of the challenges for PPRV eradication in Tanzania include movements of small ruminants, including transboundary movements, and the capacity of veterinary services for disease surveillance and vaccination. Using wildlife and atypical domestic hosts for PPR surveillance is a useful indicator of endemism and the ongoing circulation of PPRV in livestock, especially during the implementation of vaccination to control or eliminate the disease in sheep and goats. PPR disease has a major socio-economic impact in Tanzania, which justifies the investment in a comprehensive PPRV eradication programme.