Killer Virus Threatens to Break out of Africa

Rinderpest had been hemmed in to three areas: northern Kenya/southern Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan. Now, the Food and Agriculture Organization declares that the disease, which is deadly to cattle, may break out of its African stronghold.

Recent studies have confirmed that the virus continues to be active in Somalia, mainly in nomadic cattle-rearing areas. It is feared that trade in cattle across the Red Sea may spread the virus and create the conditions for an outbreak of rinderpest outside the areas into which it had been confined by UN-sponsored programmes.

Human beings are immune to rinderpest but this virus is highly contagious and dangerous among herds of cattle. Whole herds can become infected and die within days. The last major outbreak in Africa was between 1982 and 1984, in which 2 billion USD-worth of losses were caused by the virus.

Rinderpest is an acute viral disease (Paramyxoviridae group) which affects the gastrointestinal and respiratory system of cattle and wild artiodactyls (antelope, giraffe and buffalo). Its death rate is 100%. In Russia, the last outbreak was in 1998.

The symptoms of the disease in cattle are classically fever, followed by depression, lack of appetite, lack of milk production, nasal and eye discharges, irregular breathing, lesions in the nose, genitals and mouth and diarrhoea. Death occurs between one and two weeks after the onset of the disease.

The virus is transmitted via air, discharges, saliva, faeces, urine and milk. It does not survive for long in the environment, becoming inactivated at 56єC and is sensitive to many disinfectants. wide range of disinfectants.


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Author`s name Editorial Team