Rinderpest Eradication – A Veterinary Success Story

Rinderpest Eradication – A Veterinary Success Story

On 8 May 1980, the World Health Organisation declared the devastating human disease, smallpox, officially eradicated in every country of the world. Only one other disease has been similarly eradicated at the global level: the 2000-year-old disease of wild and domesticated cattle, Rinderpest.

Similar to the measles and canine distemper virus, rinderpest is a single-stranded RNA paramyxovirus invading via the respiratory tract through contact with infected body fluids or contaminated drinking water.

The first outbreaks were recorded in Asia as far back as the 4th century

Rinderpest symptoms include fever, mouth ulcers, diarrhoea and mucosal congestion followed by a general weakening and death within 8 to 12 days. Also called steppe-morain and cattle-plague, the disease is almost 100% lethal in domestic herds of cattle, buffalo, yak and wild cloven-hoofed animals such as wildebeest and giraffe.

The first outbreaks were recorded in Asia as far back as the 4th century and first properly investigated in the 17th. The earliest experiments in immunisation began in the 18th century in response to economic collapse and starvation following the devastating waves of cattle plague that swept relentlessly through Asia, Africa and Europe.

The virulent nature of the disease is exemplified by the severe epidemic that took hold in Europe following the transit of Indian cattle through Antwerp en route for Brazil in 1920. The outbreak led directly to the formation of the Office International des Epizooites (OIE) now known as the World Organisation for Animal Health.

The OIE began a programme of global rinderpest eradication

The OIE began a programme of global rinderpest eradication beginning first with improved animal hygiene, husbandry and disease containment until the first production in 1957 of Walter Plowright’s effective vaccine.

In 1999, the OIE predicted the global eradication of rinderpest by 2011. Despite occasional outbreaks in the decade that followed, in 2011, the rinderpest paramyxovirus was declared as only the second disease, after human smallpox, to be officially eradicated world-wide.

The OIE maintains a post-eradication role of monitoring and control

Although no longer present in live animals, virus stocks are still held in about 20 laboratories around the world. Though intended for vaccine production, the risk of an accident or an act of bio-terrorism remains; and the OIE maintains a post-eradication role of monitoring and control of virus storage facilities.

Eradication programmes for other animal diseases are likely to follow. As with rinderpest, the strategy is likely to involve not just the search for a vaccine, but also the rigorous application of high standards in hygiene, husbandry and containment, together with advances in veterinary laboratory practice, sample management, examination techniques and diagnostic testing.

COVID-19 Update

As the impact of COVID-19, is being felt around the world, the well-being of our employees and their families is of the highest importance to us.

By putting the safety of our employees first, we have reduced our on-site staff to a minimum and we will endeavour to maintain our business operations to the highest standard possible.

We are carefully monitoring and following official guidance from the UK Government, Public Health England, WHO and CDC guidelines and in line with these; we are currently operating business as usual.

We are monitoring our stock levels on a daily basis ensuring a fair distribution of our products. We are fully committed to maintaining the supply of products during these unprecedented times.

We are open for orders from Monday through to Thursday and closing on Fridays:

Friday Closure:  For any technical queries, orders or enquiries please do one of the following:
• Email: info@vetlabsupplies.co.uk.
• Fax: 01798 874787
• Telephone & leave a message: 01798 874567

We will endeavour to contact you on Friday and Monday if it is non-urgent.

If you require any further information, please contact Vetlab Supplies Ltd Customer Services on 01798 874567 or email info@vetlabsupplies.co.uk.

Thank you to all our customers and suppliers for their support during these temporary measures.

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