ROME: Scientists are poised to eliminate the deadly cattle disease Rinderpest, ending a malady that has devastated animal herds for centuries, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Thursday.
“It would be the first time in history that humankind has succeeded in wiping out an animal disease in the wild, and only the second time, after smallpox in 1980, that a disease has been eliminated thanks to human efforts,” the FAO said in a statement.
The organisation said it expected to confirm the eradication of the disease in mid-2011 after final reports are sent from a small number of countries to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
“We are confident that the World Assembly of Delegates of the OIE will officially recognize all remaining countries as free from the disease in May 2011,” Dr Bernard Vallat, OIE Director General said in the statement.
Rinderpest does not affect humans directly but has caused huge outbreaks of famine by killing millions of cattle.
After entering Africa in the 19th century, one Rinderpest pandemic was responsible for the death of up to a third of the human population of Ethiopia, the FAO said. – Reuters