Rinderpest, which is from the German for cattle plague, is a viral disease that infects split hoofed animals including cattle and buffalo, as well as sheep and goats. The disease is characterized by fever, malaise, lymphoid enlargement with necrosis, and bloody diarrhea. In some disease naïve populations, the mortality rate has been as high as 100%. The virus does not infect humans. In 1994, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) started the Global Rinderpest Eradication Program. On June 28, 2011 at the 37th FAO Conference, there was a resolution adopted that declared complete global eradication of rinderpest. This is only the second infectious disease to be completely eradicated from the world after the complete eradication of smallpox in 1980. The disease is thought to have originated in Asia, but later spread throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The Bible notes a devastating infectious cattle epidemic as one of the ten plague of Egypt, most likely caused by rinderpest. Rinderpest continued to cause severe devastation throughout world history and had a role in the downfall of the Roman Empire and the conquests of Genghis Khan. In 1999, Dr. Walter Plowright was awarded the World Food Prize for the development of a successful vaccine against rinderpest. With a potent vaccine and a worldwide eradication program, the FAO was able to substantially limit the spread of this infectious disease. The last known case of rinderpest occurred in wild buffalo in Kenya in 2001. By October of 2010, the FAO had announced that it believed that the disease had been eradicated from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. This is an extremely important milestone, as the health of the world is dependent upon a healthy food supply which includes cattle throughout the world. The rinderpest virus will be kept in several laboratories for research studies that may aide in the eradication of other viruses that are currently circulating among animals and humans. Future eradication programs will focus on vaccinations against Polio, measles, as well as other infectious diseases.
See the YouTube video about the global eradication of rinderpest below: