FAO Announces Eradication Of Cattle Plague, Second Disease Since Smallpox Elimination

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Tuesday in Rome announced the eradication of the cattle disease rinderpest, “the only other disease besides smallpox to achieve the gone-for-good status,” HealthKey/Los Angeles Times’ “Booster Shots” blog reports (Cevallos, 6/28).

“The name means ‘cattle plague’ in German, and it is a relative of the measles virus that infects cloven-hoofed beasts, including cattle, buffaloes, large antelopes and deer, pigs and warthogs, even giraffes and wildebeests. The most virulent strains killed 95 percent of the herds they attacked,” the New York Times writes. Though “very few” have heard of rinderpest, the disease “is hardly irrelevant to humans” because when cattle “herds die, their owners starve,” according to the newspaper (McNeil, 6/27).

The resolution passed by the FAO noting the eradication of rinderpest “also ‘called on the world community to follow up by ensuring that samples of rinderpest viruses and vaccines be kept under safe laboratory conditions and that rigorous standards for disease surveillance and reporting be applied,'” the U.N. News Centre reports (6/28).

PRI’s The World on Tuesday reported from Kenya on the history of the fight against rinderpest (Kelto, 6/28).