Livestock epidemic causing havoc in the Congo

Jul 6, 2012
by WLJ

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO) is mobilizing emergency support for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to counter the rapid spread of peste des petits ruminants (PPR), a virulent livestock disease of goats and sheep.

The disease not only threatens food security in the country, but could also result in a spill-over to southern African countries that have never had the disease.

According to the national government’s Directorate for Animal Production and Health, PPR has infected tens of thousands of goats, and more than 75,000 have already died from the disease.

The government estimates that another 1 million goats and 600,000 sheep are at risk of contracting PPR, representing onequarter of goats and twothirds of sheep throughout the entire country. Sheep and goats are generally kept by the poorest farmers, who have the least ability to absorb the loss of one of their few assets.

“This is the worst livestock epidemic in the country in more than 10 years,” said the FAO representative in DRC, Ndiaga Gueye.

“We’re seeing that in response to the threat of their animals contracting the disease, farmers are moving their animals away from infected villages to where, so far, there have been no disease outbreaks, which has been spreading the virus to healthy flocks of animals,” said Gueye. — WLJ