Re-emergence of peste des petits ruminants virus in 2015 in Morocco: molecular characterization and experimental infection in Alpine goats

Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) is a transboundary viral disease of small ruminants that causes huge economic losses in Africa, The Middle East and Asia. In Morocco, the first PPR outbreak was notified in 2008. Since then no cases were reported for seven years, probably due to three successive vaccination campaigns during 2008-2011 and close surveillance at the border areas. In June 2015, the disease re-emerged in Morocco, raising questions about the origin of the virus. The PPR virus was confirmed by qRT-PCR and virus was isolated from clinical samples on VeroNectin-4 cells. The disease was experimentally reproduced in Alpine goats using both sheep and goat derived outbreak isolates. Molecular characterization of the 2015 Moroccan PPR isolate confirmed the identity of the virus as lineage IV, closely related to the 2012 Algerian (KP793696) and 2012 Tunisian (KM068121) isolates and significantly distinct from the previous PPRV Morocco 2008 strain (HQ131927). Therefore this study confirms a new incursion of PPR virus in Morocco during 2015 and highlights the urgency of implementation of a common control strategy to combat PPR in Maghreb region in North Africa.

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