Goat plague: how to spot and report the disease

How to spot goat plague, which is also known as peste des petits ruminants, what to do if you suspect it and measures to prevent its spread.

Goat plague affects goats. It can also affect sheep.

It doesn’t affect humans.

The disease has never been recorded in Great Britain.

Goat plague is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect it you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence.

How to spot goat plague

Signs of infection may include:

  • fever
  • discharge from the eyes and nose, which can form a crust, making breathing difficult and forcing eyes shut
  • coughing
  • very bad smelling breath
  • diarrhoea

Most sheep and goats that show signs of the disease will die.

Cattle and pigs can also be infected, but do not show signs of disease.

How goat plague is spread

The goat plague virus is excreted in bodily fluids of infected animals especially:

  • tears
  • mucus from the nose
  • coughs

It is spread by close contact, and especially by airborne droplets of the virus.

Preventing and controlling goat plague

You can help prevent disease by practising strict biosecurity on your premises.

If you report suspicion of goat plague APHA vets will investigate.

If the disease is confirmed the outbreak will be controlled in line with the contingency plan for exotic notifiable diseases.

Further information on prevention and control

Controls to prevent disease

What happens when a notifiable disease is suspected or confirmed

Legislation relating to goat plague

Goat plague is covered by the Specified Diseases (Notification and Slaughter) Order 1992 and the Specified Diseases (Notification) Order 1996.

Goat plague is also covered by EU Council Directive 92/119.

In both UK and EU legislation the disease is referred to as peste des petits ruminants, not goat plague.

Published 26 August 2014
Last updated 18 October 2018 + show all updates
  1. Contact details for reporting a notifiable disease updated.
  2. First published.