Indonesia initiates alert on deadly sheep and goat disease

Ross Ainsworth, April 5, 2023

RECENT reports citing suspect cases of the small ruminant disease Peste des Petit Ruminants or PPR in Java were part of a public awareness campaign by the Indonesian Government, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said today.

Australian cattle veterinarian and market analyst Ross Ainsworth said on 24 March the Director General of Livestock and Animal Health for Indonesia published a report advising that a number of suspect cases of PPR had been identified in two regencies in the Special Region of Yogyakarta province near the centre of Java.

“Considering that the threat of the disease entering Indonesia is quite large and can result in high economic losses, it is necessary to increase vigilance, monitoring measures, and risk mitigation to prevent PPR disease from entering the territory of the Republic of Indonesia,” the director advised.

Dr Ainsworth said the suspect cases were identified by serological testing.

“The Director has notified all relevant agencies and directed them to be on high alert to any suspect cases of PPR through increased vigilance, monitoring, laboratory testing and risk mitigation.

“PPR, also known as sheep and goat plague, is a highly contagious and devastating disease affecting small ruminants,” he said.

“It is caused by a virus belonging to the genus Morbillivirus which is closely related to the rinderpest virus of cattle.

“Once introduced, the virus can infect up to 100 percent of animals and the disease kills anywhere from 30 to 90 percent of infected stock in susceptible populations,’ he said. PPR virus does not infect humans.”

PPR was first described in 1942 in West Africa. Since then the disease has spread to large regions in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe. Today, more than 70 countries are affected or at high risk and many more are without an official PPR status.

The typical acute presentation starts with a high fever (40–41 °C), eye and nose discharges, depression and inability to eat. Pneumonia and diarrhoea follow after 2-3 days. Erosions appear on the nasal and oral mucus membranes, with salivation and scabs on the lips.

Dr Ainsworth said about the only good news regarding this deadly plague of sheep and goats is that there are highly effective, inexpensive vaccines widely available that produce strong immunity for at least three years with a single dose. Diagnostic assays for serological monitoring of vaccination programs and wild virus are also effective and available.

According to the OIE, the nearest case of PPR to Indonesia was first reported in Thailand in February 2021. Before that the closest cases were in India and China.

Dr Ainsworth said considering that there are only a limited number of cases reported in Java, which contains a large and totally susceptible population of sheep and goats, it is quite likely that the laboratory results are false positives.

“Let’s hope so.”

There is a great deal of information on PPR available on the internet including the two sites below from the FAO and WOAH. petits-ruminants/

A Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries spokesperson said Indonesia has been running an awareness campaign in recent weeks on the approaching threat of PPR.

“The Australian government is aware of the reports provided by Sheep Central and has confirmed that there are no reports of PPR in Indonesia, these publications are part of the public awareness campaign.”


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