November 2, 2010

Deadly Plague Virus Threatens Livestock In Tanzania

The U.N.'s food agency said on Tuesday that a deadly virus in Tanzania is threatening over 50 million sheep and goats in 15 countries.

The Small Ruminants Plague virus (PPR) broke out in Tanzania earlier this year and now threatens southern Africa.

PPR is "considered as the most destructive viral disease affecting small ruminant flocks," the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization said in a statement.

The virus can cause death rates of up to 100 percent in animals but does not affect humans.  It can be contracted through shared pastures and live animal markets.

The PPR already occurs in the Middle East, Asia and most areas of Africa.

FAO has asked Tanzania to initiate an emergency vaccination program and said Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia should "immediately step up vigilance and engage in pro-active surveillance."

"If the disease is allowed to spread from Tanzania into the whole of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) it could potentially devastate the livelihoods and foods security of millions," it said.


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