News / Health

Cattle Plague Declared Eradicated

Cattle killed by rinderpest, Sudan, 1987
Cattle killed by rinderpest, Sudan, 1987

Multimedia

Audio

Scientists are declaring victory over a deadly animal disease that cattle herders around the world have dreaded for millennia.

Rinderpest becomes the second disease in all of human history to be successfully eradicated, after smallpox.

It played a role in the fall of Rome, the French Revolution and paved the way for the colonization of Africa, historians say. Where rinderpest struck, cattle death was swift and often total.

“If you could imagine that you are an owner of 100 animals - a milking herd - by the end of the week, you would have zero, it would go so fast through the population,” said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Animal Health Service Chief, Juan Lubroth.

And the effects were devastating for those who depended on cattle for their livelihoods.

"There is no possible comparison between rinderpest and other diseases,"said FAO Assistant Director-General Modibo Traoré. "Of course, when cattle die, it is about meat, it is about milk, it is about other animal production.”

Widespread devastation


When rinderpest first hit sub-Saharan Africa in the late 19th century, it killed 80 to 90 percent of the region’s cattle and triggered severe famines.  

At its widest extent, in the 1920s, rinderpest stretched from northern Europe to southern Africa and east to the Philippines.

This age-old plague was finally tamed by a vaccine first developed in the 1960s. Large-scale, coordinated, village-by-village vaccination campaigns reduced the disease to a few pockets. But nomadic cattle herders in East Africa presented a particular challenge.

“Animals move from one region to another, and very often across national boundaries," said the Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources’ Henry Wamwayi. "And therefore, transnational animal diseases can only be controlled if there is cooperation among countries.”

The FAO spearheaded a global eradication program beginning in 1994.

Rinderpest-free

The last known case was in Kenya in 2001. Last year, the country celebrated its certification as rinderpest-free.

But because wild animals also carry the disease, it took several years of intensive worldwide surveillance to be sure rinderpest was truly gone.

Today, Lubroth says, the world can finally claim victory.

“By having had a good vaccine and eradicating rinderpest, I think, from a food security point of view, this is a tremendous accomplishment,” he said.

Rinderpest becomes only the second disease besides smallpox to be found nowhere on earth but frozen away in a few laboratory vials, making the world a little safer for cattle and the people who depend on them.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid