The world to be declared Rinderpest free
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) will next year formally declare Ghana and the rest of the world Rinderpest free.
The OIE move is informed by the fact that for more than 10 years the cattle disease had not been recorded.
The declaration of the global eradication places Rinderpest in the same class with small pox in humans as the only diseases of global significance both in animal and human that have been successfully eradicated from the face of the earth, through concerted and well co-ordinated international cooperation and interventions.
Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra, Dr William Blankson Amanfu a retired Veterinarian of the FAO said Ghana suffered a major wave of Rinderpest outbreaks in the early 1980s especially along the coast from Togo.
The last reported outbreak of the disease was in August 1988.
He described the declaration as a historic event for which the veterinary profession can be justifiably proud, saying it is an essential pre-requisite for continued maintenance of freedom from animal or human disease through continued surveillance.
“One of the reasons for the re-emergence of some animal or human diseases is the breakdown or neglect of surveillance systems and we have guarded against that.”
Rinderpest is a highly contagious disease of cattle and some species of cloven hoofed wildlife. The virus has similar properties with the germ that causes measles in humans and canine distemper in dogs.
The main symptoms of Rinderpest are erosions in the mouth and intestines or gut of affected animals. Fetid diarrhoea and lachrimation (tearing) of affected animals are common features of the disease. In a severe infection, about 90 per cent of animals maybe affected.
Dr Amanfu explained that in Africa the disease was believed to have been introduced to North Africa, especially Egypt in the 19th century.
Most of the outbreaks of Rinderpest in Africa were associated with military campaigns where cattle were used for food and draft power.
He noted that with the support of the European Union, FAO and the Africa Union-Inter Africa Bureau for Animal Resources, Rinderpest tissue culture vaccine was developed and this provided an excellent tool for the progressive control of the disease in Africa.
Dr Amanfu called for intensive surveillance to ensure that other animal and human diseases are eradicated to make Africa free of preventable diseases.