Rinderpest (also cattle plague) is an infectious viral disease of cattle, domestic buffalo, and some species of wildlife. It is characterized by fever, oral erosions, diarrhea, lymphoid necrosis, and high mortality. The last confirmed case was in 2001. In 2011 it should be announced that a global eradication of rinderpest was complete. The term comes from the German language meaning cattle-plague.

The rinderpest virus is closely related to measles and canine distemper viruses. It is a fragile virus although very lethal. Death rates usually approach 100% in immunologically naïve populations. The disease is mostly spread through direct contact and contaminated drinking water although it can also be transmitted by air.

Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, and nasal and eye discharges. Subsequently, irregular erosions appear in the mouth, nose, and genital tract. Acute diarrhea is also common. Most animals die 6 to 12 days after the onset of clinical signs.

It is believed to have originated in Asia and later spread by cattle. Cattle plague has been recurring world-wide throughout history. In the 18th century it was seen as similar to smallpox. The first written report of rinderpest inoculation was in 1754. In the 1900s widespread eradiction took place. Due to an outbreak in the 80’s the Pan-African Rinderpest Campaign was initiated in 1987 and by the 90s nearly all of Africa was declared free of rinderpest.

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