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Development of a novel detection method for contagious sheep and goat disease

Last changed: 10 March 2021

Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) is a severe viral disease of sheep and goats. PPR is present in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, and seriously impacts the livelihoods and food security of poor and marginalized groups that often depend on their animals for daily survival. PPR is highly contagious, and the mortality can vary from 10% to around 90%.

In the summer of 2018, the first and so-far only PPR outbreak was reported in Europe, when sheep in Bulgaria at the Turkish border were infected. As PPR is considered a major global threat, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) together with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) have launched a joint control and eradication program for PPR, aiming at eradicating the disease by 2030.

Researchers at SLU in collaboration with colleagues at the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania have developed a method to rapidly identify changes in the genome of the PPR virus and associate them to epidemiological data, such as where the outbreak occurred and how severe it was. In brief, the method amplifies the complete viral genome using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and markers are linked to the amplified genome to allow nucleotide sequencing in a portable sequencing device. Changes in the viral genome can then be identified and compared with previously sequenced viruses to understand the transmission patterns of the virus, which is important for prevention of new outbreaks.

The method is rapid, portable and cost effective, enabling it to be used in laboratories in most parts of the world and also in the field during outbreaks. The hope is that this new method will contribute to the continuous efforts to eradicate the PPR virus.

Link to article


Torsson E, Kgotlele T, Misinzo G, Johansson Wensman J, Berg M, Karlsson Lindsjö O. 2020. Field-Adapted Full Genome Sequencing of Peste-Des-Petits-Ruminants Virus Using Nanopore Sequencing. Front Vet Sci. 2020 Oct 26;7:542724.

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