Agriculture, Food Board: Sheeppox, goatpox spreading in Europe may reach Estonia

  • 2022-11-03
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – According to the Estonian Agriculture and Food Board, sheeppox and goatpox was diagnosed in Spain for the first time in a long while and the authority warns that the disease may reach Estonia if enough care is not taken.

Altogether 17 outbreaks have been detected and the diseased animals are killed, the Agriculture and Food Board said.

Sheep and goats are not imported from Spain to Estonia, but the disease can be spread by contaminated equipment, vehicles, feed and bedding as well as people, so it is important to implement biosecurity measures in animal husbandry to prevent the disease from spreading to Estonia.

According to Luisa Leinberg, chief specialist at the animal health and welfare department of the Agriculture and Food Board, the disease has never been diagnosed in Estonia.

"Since there is no cure for the disease and it is a highly contagious disease, all infected animals must be killed in order to limit the spread of the disease and avoid large economic losses," Leinberg said.

"The last disease outbreak closest to Estonia was in October 2021, when sheeppox and goatpox was diagnosed in  in the Volosovsky district of Leningrad Oblast in Russia," she added.

The disease occurs mainly in most African and Middle Eastern countries.

The disease was last seen in Spain 50 years ago.

"The disease was diagnosed on Sept. 19 and so far a total of 17 outbreaks have been identified in two Spanish regions -- Andalusia and Castilla-La Mancha. The disease was last diagnosed in the country in 1968," Leinberg said.

A total of 29,604 animals have been killed in disease outbreaks, including 29,518 sheep and 86 goats.

At the moment, the outbreaks are localized because the authorities of Andalusia and Castilla-La Mancha have immediately adopted the control measures set out in the European Union regulations. A three-kilometer exclusion zone and a 10-kilometer surveillance zone have been established, carcasses are disposed of at a processing plant, the farm is cleaned and disinfected, and biosecurity and surveillance measures are strengthened.

Sheeppox and goatpox are transmitted as droplet infection in direct contact with an animal with ulcerative nodules on the mucous membranes. The primary symptoms are fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, tearing, red spots and skin lesions.

According to the Agriculture and Food Board, clinical signs vary widely and depend on the infected animal and the virulence of the virus. As the disease spreads through the herd, up to 90 percent of the animals become infected, and one in ten of those infected die. If the disease is suspected, the veterinarian must be informed immediately.