Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) in goats
By Dr Mackie Hobson BSc(Agric),BVSc

Tuesday, 14th November 2017

This is currently NOT a disease to concern Angora goat farmers as it has NOT reached South Africa.

What is Peste des petits ruminants (PPR)?

Peste des petits ruminants (PPR), also known as ‘goat plague’ or ‘ovine rinderpest’, is a viral disease of goats and sheep although other ruminants can be infected. The virus is related to rinderpest, measles and canine distemper. It can potentially have a major impact on small stock as occurred in Kenya where outbreaks in 2006-2008 killed 1.2 million small ruminants.

Where  does PPR currently occur?

The disease occurs in Central and Southern Africa, Middle East and India. China first reported the disease in 2007 and Morocco (northern Africa) in 2008.

Why is it such a dreaded disease?

PPR is highly contagious and has a mortality rate of about 80%   

What are the clinical signs?

PPR has an incubation period of 3-6 days and goats may die within 5-10 days of fever however young goats may die very acutely and may be found with nasal discharge which may be foamy or bloody. Often sheep and goats are dying while cattle don’t seem to be affected.

  • Sores in the mouth and tongue
  • Discharge from eyes and nose
  • Pneumonia
  • Diarrhoea, often arched back and appear in pain when defecating.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Ewes abort

Some goats may not show the clinical signs and the reason for its spread.

Some goats may recover and have a ongoing cough for about a week and scab around the mouth resembling orf.

How does the disease spread?

The virus spreads in eye and nasal discharges, coughing and in faeces of infected animals.

So the virus can easily be breathed in or picked up in water and feed troughs that have been contaminated.

The virus does not last long outside the body so is usually spread by animals in close contact.

How can PPR be diagnosed?

Because the clinical signs can be confused with blue tongue, foot and mouth laboratory tests are required to confirm PPR.

  • Blood tests (serology) detecting the virus and antibodies titres.
  • Identifying virus in tissue

Treatment and control

The virus is susceptible to most disinfectants.

There are no medications available to treat the disease, but supportive treatment may decrease mortality. Covering antibiotics

A vaccine is used where the disease is established and it provides good lifelong immunity.

Biosecurity is critical in avoiding the introduction of the disease into South Africa

A global eradication programme has been developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Organisation for Animal Health to potentially eradicate the disease.

Post Mortem findings:

  • Pneumonia
  • Haemorrhages on serosal surfaces
  • Erosions and inflammation of oral cavity, pharynx, oesophagus and GIT.

Zebra stripped lesions on the caecum and colon.



OIE international document

Merk veterinary Manual

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