Rinderpest, or ‘cattle plague,’ becomes only second disease to be eradicated
Rinderpest, a cattle disease that for centuries felled herds in Europe, Africa and Asia and caused periodic human famine, has been eradicated, veterinary epidemiologists announced this week.
Eradication is the Holy Grail of disease prevention and has been successful only once before. Smallpox, an equally devastating human scourge, was eradicated in 1980, proving it is possible to stamp out a microbe across the entire planet. Attempts are underway to rid the world of polio and Guinea worm disease.
The bovine equivalent of measles, rinderpest is described in ancient Chinese writings and in documents from the Roman Empire. It hobbled Charlemagne when he moved herds to support his armies in the 8th century. When it entered Ethiopia in 1889, it caused starvation that killed one-third of the country’s human population, even though the microbe does not infect people.
Even in communities that do not depend on herding for their livelihood, rinderpest could be lethal because it killed draft animals and disrupted agriculture....
comments powered by Disqus
- Dr. Saad Eskander's forced departure from Iraq's National Library and Archives deplored
- Nancy Cott selected as the next President-Elect of the Organization of American Historians
- Scholar calls ISIS destruction of antiquities an example of ethnic cleansing
- Historian Qingjia Edward Wang never thought he would one day write a book about chopsticks.
- Bernard Bailyn’s influence on the profession is hailed in the WSJ