Peste des petits ruminants disease (PPR), caused by PPR virus (PPRV), is a highly contagious disease of sheep and goats that has been widely reported in Sub Saharan Africa . The disease has been characterized by fever, erosive-ulcerative stomatitis, fibrino-necrotic tracheitis, brochointestitial pneumonia and diarrhea [2, 3]. Morbidity and mortality can be as high as 100% and 90%, respectively, depending on the endemic status of the disease in an area .
This disease was first described in West Africa in 1940s  and the first outbreak was describe in Nigeria in 1975 by Taylor and Abegunde . The virus has since spread to other countries. PPR has been reported in Southern Asia, Near East, Arabian Peninsula and in recent years outbreaks have been reported in Turkey (2000), Tibet China (2007), Morocco (2008), Tanzania (2008) and Uganda (2007). Since the earlier reports on Nigeria in 1975, the disease has become endemic giving rise to economic loses to the rural poor who rely on these animals as a source of livelihood.
Earlier studies have suggested that PPR might have been around for quite some time in different countries but was wrongly diagnosed . It has also been confused with rinderpest because of the clinical similarity . Laboratory techniques that were used in diagnosis were virus neutralization test (VNT), agar gel immunodiffusion test (AGID), counter immuno-electrophoresis (CIEP) and virus isolation which has been time consuming and laborious . Recently, molecular biology tools have made it possible to diagnose this disease rapidly and with great sensitivity compared to earlier test [9, 10].
Etiological agent of PPR is a member of the family Paramyxoviridae and genus morbillivirus . The viral genome is 15,948 nucleotides long  and contains six genes encoding six major polypeptides: nucleocapsid protein (N), phosphoprotein (P), matrix protein (M), fusion (F) protein, hemagglutinin (H), and large RNA-dependent polymerase protein. It is a linear, single stranded, non segmented, negative sense RNA virus [11, 12]. Although PPRV has been known to occur as one strain or serotype , partial sequence analysis of the fusion protein gene, indicates occurrence of four lineages (1, 2, 3 and 4), of which three have been reported in Africa . The fourth (4th) lineage is the only one that exists in the Indian sub continent but East African lineage 3 has been reported to coexist with the lineage 4. This phylogenetic analysis is helping in the epidemiological understanding of the spread of the disease among animal populations. In Nigeria there is continuing pockets of outbreaks of PPR in small ruminants necessitating studies to delineate the molecular details of the circulating field virus (es). The aim of the present study was to determine the phylogenetic relatedness of PPR viruses from outbreaks in the North central States of Nigeria.