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The end of the line for cattle plague

FAO and Italian Ministry of Health celebrate the end of rinderpest


On October 18th, the FAO and the Italian Ministry of Health celebrated the eradication of rinderpest, a lethal animal disease that for centuries wiped out herds of cattle, buffalo and related species of livestock as well as their wild relatives. In a formal ceremony, the FAO recognized the Republic of Italy's more than $6 million contribution toward the elimination of rinderpest (also known commonly as cattle plague) in Central Asian countries, as well as Italy's continuing support toward the Global Framework for Progressive Control of Trans-boundary Animal Diseases (GF-TADS).


The eradication of rinderpest last June marks the second time in human history that a disease has been eliminated, after the elimination of smallpox in humans.


Jacques Diouf, the Director General of FAO, said in a statement that efficient coordination, partnerships, international and regional cooperation, the commitment of governments, regional organizations in Africa, Asia, and Europe, the private sector, and civil society all had a part in combining forces to achieve the eradication of rinderpest.


"I'd like to take the opportunity to recognize specifically the excellent work done by the FAO's Animal Health Service. On the ground and in the laboratory, together with World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), they've made up the front line that has successfully eradicated Rinderpest."


This network can be used in the future as a platform to galvanize support for disease control programmes for other transboundary animal diseases, Diouf added.


Juan Lubroth, the FAO's Chief Veterinary Officer, noted the contribution of the International Atomic Energy Agency, another FAO/OIE partner. "Equally important in defeating rinderpest was our joint work with the IAEA, which developed economically viable diagnostic kits to monitor vaccine effectiveness in the field and trained field veterinarians in using those tools."


A monument marking the end of rinderpest was unveiled at the official ceremony. The Director-General of the OIE, Bernard Vallat, the Italian Minister of Health, Ferruccio Fazio, and the Mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, participated in the ceremony.