Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Virus eradicated – UN scientists

Virus eradicated — UN scientists


Scientists working for the United Nations say they have eradicated a virus that can be deadly to cattle.

If confirmed, rinderpest will become only the second viral disease — after smallpox — to have been eliminated by humans.

Rinderpest was once prevalent in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation has said it was “confident” the virus had been eradicated from those parts of the world.

When the disease arrived in Africa at the end of the 19th Century, between 80 and 90 percent of cattle and buffalo on the continent were killed.

The eradication of the virus has been described as the biggest achievement in veterinary history and one which will save the lives and livelihoods of millions of the poorest people in the world.

Dr John Anderson from the Institute for Animal Health at Pirbright in the UK, who has been involved with the eradication programme, said: “For too long people have been involved in controlling diseases and not actually dreaming that it is possible to eradicate a disease from the world.

And with Rinderpest we did.

“The latest FAO progress report on the rinderpest eradication programme said: “As of mid 2010, FAO is confident that the rinderpest virus has been eliminated from Europe, Asia, Middle East, Arabian Peninsula, and Africa.”

A formal announcement on the eradication of rinderpest is expected to be made by the World Organisation for Animal Health next year.

Rinderpest is one of the most lethal cattle diseases known to science.

Typically, seven out of 10 cattle infected with the disease die. In the 1960s, veterinary scientist Walter Plowright developed a workable vaccine, allowing the disease to be brought under control. —




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