Animal Health Group, Gates to Set Up Goat Plague Vaccine Bank

The World Organisation for Animal Health and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation plan to set up a vaccine bank to fight a deadly viral disease of goats and sheep known as peste des petits ruminants, or small ruminants plague.

The Paris-based animal-health group, known as OIE, will write out a public tender by the end of this month for suppliers to establish an operational vaccine bank in Africa, spokeswoman Glaieul Mamaghani said by phone today. The Gates Foundation will provide funding, she said.

The disease, also known as goat plague, is considered the most destructive virus to sheep and goats and can cause death rates of as much as 100 percent, according to the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization.

“PPR is one of the most economically important animal diseases and severely impacts the lives and livelihoods of the world’s poorest,” OIE Director General Bernard Vallat was cited as saying in an e-mailed statement. “We are hopeful that this first initiative marks the beginning of a regional and global control strategy for the disease.”

The OIE said it will develop a pilot strategy for control and longer-term eradication of the disease in two to three African countries. Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria are priorities for the project, Mamaghani said.

The proposed vaccine bank will have “virtual rolling stock,” meaning vaccines will be produced as needed and renewed on a rolling basis by selected suppliers under contract terms and conditions set by the OIE, the animal-health group said.

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