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Removal of rinderpest virus from Africa enters final stages

10 June 2016 - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has assisted the Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal in the destruction and sequestration of Rinderpest Virus-Containing Material (RVCM). FAO notes that these countries provide solid lessons on how the risk of rinderpest re-emergence can be effectively addressed and hopes the good practices will be replicated in other countries, leading to the final stages of removing rinderpest virus from Africa and other continents.

Following the successful eradication of rinderpest virus from cattle, buffalos and wildlife in year 2011, a number of laboratories around the world still retained rinderpest virus-containing material (RVCM) including wild type virus, vaccine seed strains and manufactured vaccine stocks. By resolution of the Commission of the African Union (AU) in 2010, all such material was either to be destroyed or sequestered in the Pan African Veterinary Vaccine Centre (AU-PANVAC) facility at Debre-Zeit, Ethiopia. This facility has since been evaluated to become an FAO-OIE Rinderpest Holding facility and was its status confirmed by World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) Resolution in 2015. FAO has been advocating compliance with the AU, FAO and OIE resolutions through regional outreach meetings. During the Regional meeting for maintaining global freedom from Rinderpest for African Counties in August 2015, Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal declared their stock of RVCM and asked the FAO for assistance in removing it.

The mission has succeeded secured and shipped RVCM to AU-PANVAC for safe storage and destroyed the stocks in controlled and safe laboratory, and inactivated experimental rinderpest serum samples for safe handing. In addition to providing biosafety and biorisk management training to the staff at national veterinary services of the three countries, the mission team also briefed and engaged the Kenyan, Nigerian and Senegalese governments on how to engage farmers and veterinary experts on awareness and response mechanisms in cases of rinderpest re-emergence and other Transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs).

Mission team leader and Senior Animal Health Officer of FAO, Dr Samia Metwally thanked the staff and the departments of National Veterinary Services of Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal for their support and cooperation in the mission. "We were able to successfully meet all the objectives of the mission through the coordinated collaboration of all departments in the countries."


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Credits: © FAO/Tony Karumba


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