Study finds African buffalo and gazelle unlikely to sustain spread of PPRV

A collaborative study involving scientists from The Pirbright Institute, has revealed that African buffalo and Grant’s gazelle are unlikely to sustain circulation of peste des petits ruminants virus (PPRV), improving prospects for disease eradication.

The role of wild species in PPRV epidemiology is unclear, which is a knowledge gap for the Global Strategy for the Control and Eradication of PPR.

In the first large-scale randomised survey of its kind, scientists found that nearly 20 percent of 132 animals sampled in Greater Serengeti and Amboseli ecosystems of Kenya and Tanzania had previously been infected with PPRV. This included African buffalo, wildebeest, topi, kongoni, Grant’s gazelle, impala, Thomson’s gazelle, warthog and gerenuk.

The team also looked specifically at herds of African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) and Grant’s gazelle (Gazella granti) to understand how frequently they had been infected. Their findings, published in Viruses, reveal that swab samples from both species were negative for PPRV and only low levels of antibodies against the virus were detected in smaller number of animals, indicating they had previously been exposed to PPRV. This suggests that sporadic spill over from infected sheep and goats is the most likely source of disease rather than circulation within the wild populations.

This could mean that if PPR is eliminated in sheep and goat populations that interface with wildlife through livestock vaccination, the risk of African buffalo and Grant’s gazelle maintaining the disease and then reintroducing infection to livestock would be low. If this is the same for other susceptible species across other major ecosystems, the disease would be less likely to remerge from wild populations once the disease is eliminated from livestock.

Article: Jones, B. A., Mahapatra, M., Mdetele, D., Keyyu, J., Gakuya, F., Eblate, E., Lekolool, I., Limo, C., Ndiwa, J. N., Hongo, P., Wanda, J. S., Shilinde, L., Mdaki, M., Benfield, C., Parekh, K., Mayora Neto, M., Ndeereh, D., Misinzo, G., Makange, M. R., Caron, A., Bataille, A., Libeau, G., Guendouz, S., Swai, E. S., Nyasebwa, O., Koyie, S. L., Oyas, H., Parida, S., Kock, R. (2021). Peste des Petits Ruminants Virus Infection at the Wildlife-Livestock Interface in the Greater Serengeti Ecosystem, 2015-2019. Viruses, 13 (5), 838, doi: 10.3390/v13050838

The article belongs to a Special Issue of Viruses, Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) Eradication: Improved Understanding of Epidemiology, Diagnostics and Vaccine Efficacy

[SOURCE: The Pirbright Institute]