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Reference Desk September 2012

New Analysis In Science Tells How World Eradicated Deadliest Cattle Plague

    September 15, 2012--A new analysis published in Science traces the recent global eradication of the deadliest of cattle diseases, crediting not only the development of a new, heat-resistant vaccine, but also the insight of local African herders, who guided scientists in deciding which animals to immunize and when. The study provides new insights into how the successful battle against rinderpest in Africa, the last stronghold of the disease, might be applied to similar diseases that today ravage the livestock populations on which the livelihoods of one billion of the world's poor depend.

    Capable of wiping out a family's cattle in just a few days, rinderpest was declared vanquished in May 2011. After smallpox, it is only the second disease (and first livestock disease) ever to be eradicated from the earth.

    "The elimination of rinderpest is an enormous triumph against a disease that has plagued animals and humankind for centuries," said Jimmy Smith, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). "Science succeeded despite limited resources, and we now know how. We are committed to applying the lessons in this study to making progress against other similarly destructive livestock diseases."

    According to the analysis, which was conducted by international scientists coordinated by ILRI, and published this week in Science, the eradication of rinderpest happened thanks to the development of an effective temperature-stable vaccine, collaborations between veterinary health officials and cattle farmers to deliver those vaccines, and reliance on the knowledge and expertise of the local herders to determine the location and movement of outbreaks.

    For more on this story, click here.

    Source: Medical News Today

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