The Central Veterinary Laboratory (LCV) of the Ministry in Algete (Madrid), the National Reference Laboratory for sheep and goat pox (SVC) in Spain, has confirmed the outbreak of this disease declared by the Regional Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development in two farms in the towns of Benamaurel (Granada) and Oria (Almeria). In the case of Benamaurel (Granada), there are 394 sheep, while in Oria there are 106 animals, 97 ewes and nine goats. This is the tenth and eleventh outbreak reported in Andalusia.
Oria is the first case reported in the province of Almeria, although it is a municipality bordering the town of Cúllar in Granada, which has already been affected by an outbreak of sheep and goat pox in the past. The two cases bring the total number of cases in the Andalusian Autonomous Community to 11.
The suspicion originated from the appearance of lesions compatible with the disease in animals from both farms and the official veterinary services of the Junta de Andalucía immediately proceeded, following the established protocol, to take samples and send them to the Central Laboratory in Algete. The samples were confirmed positive by PCR-RT and sequencing for sheep pox virus.
The Consejería has immediately adopted the control measures provided for in Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/687 as regards the rules on the prevention and control of certain diseases, including the slaughter of the animals, disposal of the carcasses in the processing plant, official cleaning and disinfection of the holding, establishment of a 3km protection zone and a 10km surveillance zone, with reinforcement of biosecurity and surveillance measures on farms, as well as the application of measures restricting the movement of animals and products, in addition to epidemiological research to try to identify the origin of the virus, still under study, as well as possible risk contacts that may have occurred, among others.
The disease is a viral disease which had been eradicated in Spain since 1968, until an outbreak was identified on 19 September in the municipality of Benamaurel in Granada. Previously, sporadic cases had been detected within the EU, most recently in Greece and Bulgaria in 2014. It also remains endemic in Africa (including northern African countries such as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia), as well as in the Middle East and Asia.
It is a non-zoonotic disease, which exclusively affects sheep and goats, and under no circumstances can it be transmitted to humans, either by direct contact with the animals or through their products.
The Regional Ministry reminds of the importance of applying adequate biosecurity measures on sheep and goat farms, as well as in animal transport. It is also essential to ensure the proper functioning of passive surveillance systems to detect the possible entry of sheep and goat pox on other farms, hence the importance of communicating any signs of the disease to the official veterinary services.
The Regional Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development recently launched a line of additional aid to livestock farmers for the feeding of livestock immobilised as a result of outbreaks of sheep and goat pox with a budget of 500,000 euros. The processing will be carried out by means of an Order and, once the expenditure has been justified by the livestock farmers, the amount will be paid to them as feed expenses. This aid is in addition to the existing aid for the slaughter of animals on affected farms.
In addition to these aids, other aids are also in place to help the sector, such as Measure 21 for the livestock sector, which has an allocation of 70 million euros to promote sustainable extensive livestock farming systems and traditional grazing techniques; exemption from the payment of taxes and aid granted for the slaughter of animals.