Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia

Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia

Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia


Current author:
F T H THIAUCOURT - OIE Expert and Head of CIRAD CBPP Reference Laboratory, Veterinarian, PhD, HDR, TA A117 Campus de Baillarguet, Montpellier, Occitanie, 34398, France


Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) is an acute, subacute or chronic disease of cattle and occasionally of water buffaloes (Bubalus bubalis) and yack (Bos gruniensis) caused by Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides (Mmm). The acute to subacute disease is characterized by serofibrinous pleuropneumonia and severe pleural effusion.  Pulmonary sequestra result from the development of chronic, often subclinical, disease.

A recent study based on molecular phylogeny showed that this pathogen probably emerged in Europe in about 1700, i.e. relatively recently, probably from a small ruminant source.34 The disease’s subsequent spread around the world through cattle trade in the 19th Century followed by disappearance from most of these locations, with the notable exception of sub-Saharan Africa, is traced in that paper. Furthermore, due to its persistence in East, West, Central and some parts of southern Africa, it currently exhibits considerable genomic diversity in the sub-Saharan Africa.34

The disease was first unequivocally described in 177344 and has, with the exception of South America and Madagascar, occurred throughout the world at some time. It was eradicated from North America and Australia in the mid-20th Century and probably from Western Europe by the turn of the 21st Century.34 It is an economically important disease in Africa south of the Sahara65, 84 although in southern Africa Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland and most of Namibia are currently recognized as free of the disease (

The disease was present in some countries of the Near- and Middle East, for example in Kuwait in 1974, but the current situation is uncertain. Pakistan reported its last outbreak in 1997 and India in 1990.84, 95 As of 2017, China, India, Singapore and Australia were recognized as free from CBPP by the OIE (

Sporadic outbreaks occurred in southern Europe until 1999. The disease was detected in 1967 at the French-Spanish border and then in 1983 in Portugal after an absence of 30 years. Two regions, Entre-Douro e Minho and Beira Litoral, were particularly affected. Intensive test-and-slaughter policies resulted in a dramatic reduction in the number of outbreaks between 1993 and 1999, when the last case was detected. Outbreaks also occurred in Italy in 1990 to 1993 in two regions, Lombardi and Puglia. The disease was eliminated after extensive slaughter-out policies had been adopted but the origin of the outbreaks was never identified.

The presence of CBPP in East, West and Central Africa as well as northern reaches of southern Africa severely restricts rural economic development and the effective utilization of animal resources in those regions. Veterinary regulatory measures aimed at the control the disease hamper effective land-use planning.  Prophylactic vaccination campaigns in particular place high demands on the limited budgets of most veterinary administrations confronted by endemic CBPP.

Unlike other parts of Africa, the history of CBPP in southern Africa is well documented. It was introduced into South Africa from The Netherlands by a Friesian bull or bulls landed at Mossel Bay in 1853.79 From there the disease was rapidly disseminated by trek oxen, spreading in all directions along transport routes, and soon reached the northern provinces of the country. Within two years it had killed over 100 000 head of cattle.45 Among its political effects was a major contribution to the Great Xhosa Cattle-killing Movement of 1856 to 1857 that resulted in the starvation of tens of thousands of Xhosa people and the devastation of that nation.79

Namibia was infected in 1856 when a localized outbreak occurred at Warmbad in the south. Although the initial outbreak was contained by quarantine measures adopted by missionaries in the area, the infection reached the central cattle-raising districts in 1859 as a result of cattle introductions from either Botswana or South Africa. High mortalities resulted and the Herero people refer to 1860 as ‘otjipunga’ or ‘the year of the lung’. In 1861 CBPP crossed the Limpopo River to cause heavy losses among the cattle of the Matabele nation in today’s southern Zimbabwe.45

Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia was introduced into Angola from the south, probably by infected cattle belonging to the Dorsland Trekkers who emigrated from South Africa and settled near Humpata in the Huila Province in the early 1880s. Its presence was confirmed there in 1888.69 Extensive use of draught oxen was considered to be the cause of its rapid spread throughout Angola, and by 1914 the whole country had been infected.

The introduction of CBPP into Zambia occurred via Angola. Although eradicated in 1946, CBPP was again introduced into the Western Province of Zambia in late 1969.92 This outbreak resulted in 75 per cent morbidity and caused up to 68 per cent mortality.4 It was eradicated in 1976 but was again reintroduced in 2000 from Angola.

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