SLU news

New detection method can help eradicate contagious sheep and goat disease

Published: 10 March 2021
African sheep

Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) is a severe viral disease of sheep and goats. PPR is present in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The virus is highly contagious, and the mortality can be as high as 90%.

Researchers at SLU in collaboration with colleagues at the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania have developed a method to rapidly identify changes in the genome of the PPR virus and associate them to epidemiological data, such as where the outbreak occurred and how severe it was.

“This illness seriously impacts the livelihoods and food security of poor and marginalised people that often depend on their animals for daily survival. Our hope is that this method will contribute to the continuous efforts to eradicate this virus”, says Jonas Johansson Wensman, Researcher at the Department of Clinical Sciences; Ruminant Medicine Unit, SLU.

The method is rapid, portable and cost effective, enabling it to be used in laboratories in most parts of the world and also in the field during outbreaks.

About the method

In brief, the method amplifies the complete viral genome using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and markers are linked to the amplified genome to allow nucleotide sequencing in a portable sequencing device. Changes in the viral genome can then be identified and compared with previously sequenced viruses to understand the transmission patterns of the virus, which is important for prevention of new outbreaks. 

Link to article


Torsson E, Kgotlele T, Misinzo G, Johansson Wensman J, Berg M, Karlsson Lindsjö O. 2020. Field-Adapted Full Genome Sequencing of Peste-Des-Petits-Ruminants Virus Using Nanopore Sequencing. Front Vet Sci. 2020 Oct 26;7:542724.