Tiny plastic cow figures (image on Flickr by Zoomar).
The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University is standing proud this week. Three of their graduates helped eradicate only the second disease ever eradicated from earth.
‘Three Tufts University researchers were praised by the international community for their help in eradicating rinderpest, a disease that has killed millions of cattle for millennia.
‘Their pioneering work allowed a rinderpest vaccine to traverse the Sahara in the world’s most remote areas and save cattle from the disease.
‘They were part of a United Nations celebration of the world’s second eradicated disease.
‘On Tuesday, June 28, the United Nations declared that the world has completely eradicated the disease. It is the first animal disease to be officially declared eradicated and only the second disease ever, after smallpox.
‘A resolution approved by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization at its meeting in Rome stated that the world was free of rinderpest, or cattle plague, but also called on the world community to follow up by ensuring that samples of the viruses and vaccines be kept under safe laboratory conditions and that rigorous standards for disease surveillance and reporting be applied.
‘“The eradication of rinderpest highlights the importance of veterinarians’ involvement in basic science and global health,” said Deborah T. Kochevar, DVM, PhD, dean of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, where the heat-stable rinderpest vaccine work began. “There is a continued need for teams of global health professionals to work together to eradicate infectious diseases, and veterinarians will play a key part in this effort.”
‘Attending the ceremony were Jeffrey Mariner, a former student and faculty member of the Cummings School, as well as Andy Catley, PhD and Berhanu Admassu, DVM, MSC, of Tufts’ Feinstein International Center (FIC).
While a student at Tufts’ veterinary school, Dr. Mariner, now with the International Livestock Research Institute, repurposed a rinderpest vaccine that could be transported to rural areas without refrigeration. Delivery of the previous vaccine was problematic due to heat sensitivity.
‘Dr. Admassu and Darlington Akabwai, DVM, also of the FIC, assisted the Ethiopian government with removing distribution barriers by developing novel community-based approaches to vaccination. Eradication of rinderpest in Ethiopia was especially crucial because the country has the largest cattle population in Africa.’
Read this news on the Grafton Patch website: Tufts helps eradicate disease, 28 June 2011.
Read about this on ILRI’s News Blog: Deadly rinderpest virus today declared eradicated from the earth—’greatest achievement in veterinary medicine’, 28 June 2011.
Read other news clippings about this veterinary milestone on this ILRI Clippings Blog: It’s official! FAO declare rinderpest vanquished, 28 June 2011.