Campaign against deadly cattle plague ending

Campaign against deadly cattle plague ending

14/10/2010

An ambitious global effort that has brought rinderpest, a deadly cattle plague, to the brink of extinction is ending all field activities, paving the way for official eradication of the disease. It would be the first time in history that humankind has succeeded in wiping out an animal disease in the wild, and only the second time, after smallpox in 1980, that a disease has been eliminated thanks to human efforts.

Rinderpest does not affect humans directly, but its ability to cause swift, massive losses of cattle and other hoofed animals has led to devastating effects on agriculture for millennia, leaving famine and economic devastation in its wake.

"The control and elimination of rinderpest has always been a priority for the Organization since its early days in its mission to defeat hunger and strengthen global food security," FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said as ministers, animal health experts and partners gathered in Rome (13-14 October) for a Global Rinderpest Eradication Symposium.

The meeting got underway as representatives from many of FAO's member countries prepared to take part in the 15 October World Food Day 2010 observance, whose theme is "United Against Hunger."