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

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults 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.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid