18 February 2003, Rome --
Pakistan has declared itself "provisionally
free" from the deadly cattle plague rinderpest, the UN
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced today.
For a country to declare itself
provisionally free from rinderpest, it must prove that there has
been no outbreak for at least two years, that it has stopped
vaccination and that a surveillance system is in place,
according to the rules overseen by the Office International des
Epizooties in Paris.
The last cases of
rinderpest, a highly infectious viral disease that can destroy
entire populations of cattle and buffaloes, were detected in
October 2000 in a buffalo farm near Karachi, FAO said.
"Even three years ago freeing
Pakistan from rinderpest was a dream," said Peter
Roeder, Secretary of the FAO-led Global Rinderpest Eradication
movements of buffaloes and some cattle from Pakistan to
Afghanistan, with some onward trade to Iran, have not been
accompanied by rinderpest," Roeder said. "This
adds strength to our understanding that Pakistan is now
eradication by 2010
"With Pakistan's success, there is
growing confidence that the whole of Asia is now free from
rinderpest for the first time in millennia."
"Pakistan's success story
brings GREP a large step nearer to the goal of rinderpest
eradication by 2010," Roeder said.
"The challenge for GREP in Asia is now to
help all countries to stay free from rinderpest and to be
prepared for emergencies. They also need to closely monitor the
situation to finally prove that they are completely free from
still has much to do to achieve the final status of freedom from
rinderpest infection. The country's veterinary services
will need continuing support from FAO and the European Union to
reach this target," Roeder said.
New chances for livestock exports
"Now that rinderpest has gone,
Pakistan will be able to export more livestock. This will
contribute to increased income and food security in rural areas
and will help to reduce poverty," Roeder said.
Pakistan earns about 12 percent of its
foreign exchange from livestock trade.
regions that depend on cattle for meat, milk products and
draught power, rinderpest has caused widespread famine and
inflicted serious economic and social damage.
The last stronghold of the virus appears to be limited
to extensive cattle herds in the semi-arid rangelands in the
Horn of Africa, FAO said.
In the mid
1990s, a rinderpest outbreak swept through the Northern Areas of
Pakistan killing tens of thousands of cattle, buffaloes and
The disease then lingered on in the
dairy farms around Karachi and the remote areas of Southern
This initiated Pakistan's
rinderpest eradication programme which started in 1995 with
assistance from FAO at the time of the cattle plague epidemic.
Building on another successful FAO project
in 2000, the European Union provided 1.8 million Euro for FAO to
continue support for the rinderpest eradication effort.
In addition, the EU is about to launch a
multi-million Euro livestock services development project in
support of livestock production and veterinary services in the
country thus ensuring continuity for at least six years.
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570