Joint Press Release

Global research network propels Peste des petits ruminants eradication initiatives forward 

PPR eradication_Red haired white woman farmer feeding goat

The successful conclusion of the sixth annual meeting of the Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) Global Research and Expertise Network (PPR-GREN) marks a significant step forward in the ongoing efforts to eradicate PPR. Held in Bengaluru, India from 28 to 30 November 2023, the event provided a platform for leading researchers, experts and stakeholders engaged in the fight against PPR to exchange cutting-edge research, experiences and insights, all aimed at supporting the PPR eradication program. 

This meeting showcased the latest results and experiences from research and activities undertaken by network participants, with keynote speakers enriching discussions on critical topics. A call for abstracts allowed network members to share their latest work across various themes, including new technologies, epidemiology, surveillance, diagnostics, vaccination, and other control methods. 

The Bengaluru meeting produced main recommendations for research priorities in support of PPR eradication. These include the definition and mapping of episystems based on socio-economics, epidemiological, and molecular factors in domestic and wild animals. Research priorities also encompass sheep and goat virus transmission, atypical hosts like camels and pigs, validation of antibody and antigen serological tests, vaccination strategies, socio-economic evaluations as well as the implementation of One Health approaches at the community level. 

Amid ongoing global efforts to combat PPR, the findings from the 6th Annual Meeting of PPR-GREN emphasize the crucial role of collaborative research and expertise exchange in realizing the ambitious aim of eradicating this devastating animal disease by 2030. These updates and ensuing discussions are anticipated to play a substantial role in advancing the implementation of the third phase of the PPR Global Eradication Programme (PPR GEP), guiding priorities for additional research in the ongoing battle against PPR. 

PPR, a highly contagious and devastating animal disease affecting domestic small ruminants and wild artiodactyls, poses a significant threat in 68 countries. Recognizing its impact on sheep and goats, crucial sources of food and income for millions globally, FAO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) launched the PPR Global Control and Eradication Strategy (PPR GCES) in 2015. Subsequently, the second and third phases of the PPR GEP, known as the “Blueprint for PPR Eradication by 2030,” were launched in November 2022. This blueprint outlines key control strategies and milestones, with the overarching goal of global PPR eradication by 2030. Considering the epidemiological situation and the transboundary nature of diseases, the blueprint emphasized the need to address PPR and other diseases at the episystem levels. 

The success of the PPR GEP Blueprint relies on innovative research, with PPR-GREN serving as a crucial forum for scientific and technical collaboration. Established in 2018, the network facilitates information-sharing, coordination, and collaboration among researchers and implementers supporting PPR eradication. 

Organized into four thematic groups focusing on atypical hosts, wildlife hosts, socioeconomics, and vaccination strategy, the network plays a pivotal role in advancing the goals established during the 2019 PPR-GREN meeting. In the spirit of the Blueprint, a 5th thematic group (episystem) was created. A key goal in assessment of episystems is to identify the core reservoir populations and distinguish reservoir populations from incidentally infected populations. The core reservoirs in PPR episystems are populations of sheep and goats necessary and sufficient to efficiently circulate the virus indefinitely. The objectiveo of these groups include updating the network on research outputs within their respective expertise areas and advising on research priorities to bolster the PPR Global Eradication Programme (GEP). 

In the coming years, as we strive to implement the outlined strategies and milestones of the PPR GEP Blueprint, ongoing updates and discussions within the PPR-GREN community are anticipated to shape the trajectory of our efforts. The collaborative spirit exhibited in Bengaluru stands as a guiding light, emphasizing that through shared knowledge and coordinated action, we can indeed realize the vision of a world free from the scourge of Peste des Petits Ruminants by 2030.