Bulgaria reports first outbreak of ovine rinderpest in EU

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria on Thursday reported the first outbreak in the European Union of the highly contagious Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR), on livestock farms in the village of Voden in southeastern Bulgaria, close to the border with Turkey.

The disease, also known as ovine rinderpest or sheep and goat plague, can have a severe impact on livestock, killing between 30 to 70 percent of the infected animals. Once introduced, the virus can infect up to 90 percent of an animal heard. The virus does not infect humans.

Samples from the farms tested positive for PPR on June 19, the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency said.

"The disease has been detected for the first time on the territory of the country and in the European Union," the agency said, adding samples had been sent for confirmation to the EU's reference laboratory on PPR in France.

Authorities have imposed a quarantine zone around the village, ordered blood checks on small livestock within 10-kilometres from the outbreak and banned trade and transport of all livestock in the regions bordering Turkey.

The agency said ovine rinderpest exists in neighboring Turkey but it was not clear how it spread into Bulgaria.

(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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