Foot and mouth disease, FMD, brucellosis, rabies and Pest des Petites Rumiants (PPR) are the next disease-elimination targets for FAO and OIE following success over rinderpest. The FAO conference officially recognized last week global freedom from the deadly cattle virus.
The declaration is the final step in a decades-long global campaign implemented by FAO, in close coordination with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and other partners to eradicate rinderpest.
This highly infectious disease has killed many millions of cattle, buffalo and other animals, and caused hunger and economic hardship, primarily in Africa, Asia and Europe.
The announcement followed verification last month by OIE that the disease was no longer circulating in its natural habitat. The last outbreak of inderpest was registered in wild buffalo in Kenya in 2001, and the last vaccination took place in 2006.
This successful eradication shows that actions against animal diseases do not come within concepts of agricultural or merchant good but within the concept of Global Public Good because by alleviating poverty, contributing to public health and food security, and improving market access as well as animal welfare, they benefit all people and generations in the world, said Bernard Vallat, OIE Director-General.
Since 1994, FAO has spearheaded the Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme (GREP) with the OIE, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other institutional partners, governments, regional organizations such as the Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources, and communities worldwide.
These international cooperation and coordination mechanisms — funded by the European Union, Japan, Ireland, Italy, France, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and others and supported by academic and research institutions across the world —have been fundamental for the achievement of rinderpest eradication, particularly in the poorest countries.
FAO, OIE and their partners are determined to implement internationally agreed procedures for confining such virus stocks in highly bio-secure laboratory facilities.
Emphasis has now moved to other high-impact animal diseases such as FMD, PPR, brucellosis and rabies.
FMD is a highly contagious viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals characterised by high fever, painful blisters around the mouth, tongue and feet. The infection can be lethal in young animals, such as lambs and piglets. It also causes serious production losses and is a major constraint to international trade in livestock products.
PPR is a highly contagious trans-boundary animal disease of wild and domestic small ruminants caused by a virus of the same family as the rinderpest virus in cattle and human measles. Affected sheep and goats suffer severe respiratory and digestive problems with high fatality rates.
Brucellosis is a bacterial infectious disease, causing abortion, infertility and decreased milk yield in cattle, sheep and goats. It may cause serious disease in people as well.
Rabies is a viral disease of domestic and wild mammals, and can impact agricultural production. In humans, the infection is mostly transmitted by dog bites. The disease poses a serious threat to people's health, especially in children.