Two years ago, the world reached a milestone: FAO declared the world free from rinderpest on 28 June 2011. Rinderpest is a highly contagious animal disease also known as cattle plague. Next week FAO and the world are celebrating the two-year anniversary of the eradication of the virus. FAO will mark the occasion in Nairobi, Kenya during a workshop on animal health in East Africa from 27 to 29 June 2013.
Rinderpest was the first animal disease to be eliminated in the history of mankind. Its effect was devastating, killing entire herds of cattle, buffalo and other susceptible species in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The mortality rate of rinderpest sometimes reached 100 percent. It had the capacity to destroy the livelihoods of the people dependent on their animals for food and income.
Although it has been eradicated, the virus is still stocked in certain laboratories around the world. FAO will continue to work jointly with the World Organisation for Animal Health to help ensure its secure and appropriate management.
In this respect, through its Emergency Prevention System for Animal Health programme, FAO has implemented with partners a series of post-rinderpest eradication activities to continue managing the rinderpest virus and to build best practices in laboratories.
The lessons learned from the elimination of the virus will help prevent and control other transboundary animal diseases. Devastating diseases like peste des petits ruminants continue to impact negatively on food security, people’s nutrition and the sustainability of agricultural systems and rural development.
On 28 June 2013, FAO will join the world in celebrating the eradication of rinderpest. This achievement has shown the international community what is possible when nations work together to make the world a safer place.