UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 14 (UPI) — For the first time in history, human efforts will have wiped out an animal disease in the wild, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says.
The infectious viral disease rinderpest will soon be officially eradicated in an ambitious worldwide effort, a U.N. release said Thursday.
Smallpox is the only other disease successfully eradicated by human efforts, the FAO said.
Rinderpest, from the German for “cattle plague,” does not directly affect humans, but the swift, massive losses of cattle and other hoofed animals it causes has wreaked havoc on agriculture for thousands of years, resulting in famine and economic destruction.
At one point its spread extended from Scandinavia to the Cape of Good Hope and from Africa’s Atlantic shore to the Philippine archipelago.
Outbreaks have also been reported in Brazil and Australia.
The last known outbreak of rinderpest occurred in Kenya in 2001.
FAO headed a global effort to study the plague to help farmers and others recognize and control the disease, start vaccination campaigns and ultimately eradicate it.
“The control and elimination of rinderpest has always been a priority for the organization since its early days in its mission to defeat hunger and strengthen global food security,” FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said.
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