An announcement of the eradication of rinderpest, also known as cattle plague, was announced today at the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). This event compares to the eradication of smallpox in humans.
The global freedom status will be ratified by ministers of agriculture at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations conference in June.
“Once a dream, rinderpest eradication is now a reality,” says Dr. Peter Roeder, secretary of the Global Rinderpest Eradication Program from 2000 to 2007. “Not only does this magnificent achievement help to protect the livelihoods of many millions of livestock-dependent farmers but, because it removes a serious constraint to livestock trade, it has a major positive impact on many countries’ economies. If we can truly learn the lessons from rinderpest eradication there is no reason why we couldn’t see other diseases brought to global extinction with similar pro-poor and economic impact.”
Rinderpest ravaged cattle and human populations that depend on them throughout history. Rinderpest led to the formation of the OIE in 1924 following an incursion of the rinderpest virus in Europe.
“This monumental achievement testifies to the dedication of the veterinary services of affected countries and illustrates how vets and veterinary science can have a global impact,” says Dr. Harvey Locke, president, British Veterinary Association. “I should also like to pay tribute to British veterinary surgeons who made contributions to the global effort to eradicate rinderpest. Gordon Scott, a rinderpest researcher and Walter Plowright developed the tissue culture for the rinderpest vaccine.”