National Reference Laboratory for Rinderpest (RP) and National Reference Laboratory for Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR)
Rinderpest (RP) is an acute, highly febrile viral disease of even-toed ungulates, especially cattle and bison. The morbidity and mortality is high. RP is caused by a negative strand RNA virus of the genus Morbillivirus (family Paramyxoviridae). It is closely related to the agent of peste des petits ruminants (PPR, ovine rinderpest). PPR mostly affects sheep and goats, but other even-toed ungulates are also susceptible. RP and PPR viruses are distinct species with a close antigenetic relationship, pronounced cross-protective immunity and variable virulence. There are three recognized genetic lineages of Rinderpest virus (RPV), while PPR virus (PPRV) is separated into four genotypes.
PPR outbreaks are reported from the Middle East, Southwest and Central Asia and Africa. Europe is free from RP and PPR. In 1994, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) commissioned a vaccination program to eradicate RP worldwide. Currently, its last strongholds are the extensive cattle herds in the rangelands of the Horn of Africa.
RP can take any of four forms: peracute, acute, subacute and mild or atypical. The acute form, “classical rinderpest” is marked by high fever and severe clinical disease (diarrhea, widespread erosions of the upper intestinal mucosa) that is usually fatal. Peracute RP can kill animals within two or three days. Subacute disease is most often found in wild animals (bison, giraffes, antelopes). The atypical form is very mild, but immune suppression can lead to secondary infections.
With PPR, the severity of clinical disease depends on genotype, affected host species, breed and immune status. There are peracute, acute and subacute forms; each is similar to the corresponding form of RP in cattle. Characteristic for PPRV infections, however, are labial lesions and late-stage pneumonia.