Lessons learned from the recently successful 50-year campaign to rid the world of cattle plague (rinderpest), could assist in controlling other devastating diseases such as foot and mouth disease, according to world renowned veterinarian, Dr Peter Roeder.
Secretary of the Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme (GREP) from 2000 to 2007, Dr Roeder, discussed the success of the campaign when he presented CSIRO’s Snowdon Lecture in Melbourne, recently held as part of the Vet2011 Symposium.
“This is the first time that humans have succeeded in wiping out an animal disease in the wild, and only the second time, after smallpox in 1980, that a disease has been eliminated thanks to human efforts,” says Dr Roeder.
Cattle plague characteristically causes fever, oral erosions, diarrhoea, lymphoid necrosis and high mortality in affected animals. Although it does not directly affect humans, it has the ability to cause swift, massive losses of cattle and other hoofed animals, leading to devastating effects on agriculture and national economies.
“Reflection on the remarkable achievement in eradicating this disease allows lessons to be drawn from the process, which are also applicable to the control of other transboundary animal diseases,” says Dr Roeder.
CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) Director, Professor Martyn Jeggo – who spent 17 years involved in GREP while working for the United Nations – says knowledge gained from the campaign’s success will enhance Australia ’s ability to manage livestock diseases and add to its already successful history of eradicating livestock diseases such as brucellosis and tuberculosis, and most recently, horse flu.
“As we move forward we can further learn from the rinderpest eradication process and how to apply this in the context of our own disease challenges both now and in the future,” says Jeggo.
Named in honour of CSIRO AAHL Foundation Chief, Dr Bill Snowdon, the biannual Snowdon Lecture has been presented by many world leading scientists and veterinarians over the past two decades.
This year the Snowdon Lecture is part of the Vet2011 Symposium celebrating veterinary education and achievements in Australia. This symposium is part of the international 250th anniversary of the establishment of the world's first veterinary school, in Lyon, France, which coincidently was originally established to train people in the control of rinderpest.
AAHL, the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, and the Australian Veterinary Association are jointly hosting Vet2011.
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