Another Global Disease Bites the Dust?


A deadly animal virus, known for killing 80-90 percent of infected cattle in as little as 7 days, is on the verge of extinction. Rinderpest, a relative of measles, is a threat to humans as well as domesticated livestock. Not because it can jump species, but because of the famines it leaves in its wake.

Now, thanks to an extensive program of vaccination and surveillance begun in 1994, the World Organisation for Animal Health reports that we may have seen the last of Rinderpest. According to an article in Nature, the last known cases of the disease were in Kenya in 2001. Experts are holding off on a formal "In Your Face, Virus!" announcement, but if all goes well over the next 18 months, Rinderpest will become the second disease (after Smallpox) to be completely eradicated by human public health efforts. Go us!

BTW: The name "Rinderpest", which is fabulously poetically awesome, is derived from the German for "cattle plague".

Nature News: Deadliest Animal Disease on the Brink of Eradication
(Thanks, Tara Smith!)

Image courtesy Flickr user foxypar4, via CC