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Rinderpest Recedes

  • Friday, October 1, 1999

Rinderpest, a highly contagious bovine plague that has killed millions of Africa's cattle, buffalo and other wildlife in the last century, is finally coming under control.

The disease has been eradicated in West and Central Africa, Pan Africa Rinderpest Control (PARC) experts said at a spring conference in Nairobi, and is contained in most of East Africa.

Rinderpest, caused by morbillivirus, attacks cloven-hoofed animals like cows, sheep, buffalo and giraffe and is almost always fatal. It is easily transmitted through direct contact and by drinking water contaminated with the dung of sick animals.

Although the introduction of vaccines in the 1960s had largely wiped out the disease, an outbreak spread across Africa in the early 1980s and in Kenya's Tsavo National Park in 1994-95.

Rinderpest is believed to persist in Sudan and possibly Somalia, and about four other places in the world.

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