Rinderpest

Rinderpest is a highly contagious disease that had been known since humans initiated the domestication of livestock. Before its eradication in 2011, rinderpest was the most impactful of all cattle diseases, since it could be 100% fatal in some herds, rapidly transmissible and affected cattle, buffaloes, yaks, and many other domesticated and wild even-toed ungulates. It is reported to have had originated in Central Eurasia, and later spread to Europe and Asia, according to trade and migration routes. The disease was also reported in the Americas and Australia in a lower prevalence. Rinderpest triggered extensive famines in Africa and hindered agricultural development in Asia. The vast repercussions of the disease at social and economic levels led in 1924 to the creation of the OIE, seeking for controlling infectious animal diseases at an international level and then to the creation of several Veterinary Medicine schools across Europe and Asia. The world was officially declared free from rinderpest in 2011 in the course of the 79th OIE General Session.

What is rinderpest?

Rinderpest is a highly contagious disease that had been known since humans initiated the domestication of livestock. 

Rinderpest: a highly fatal disease for livestock

Before its eradication in 2011, rinderpest was the most impactful of all cattle diseases, since it could be 100% fatal in some herds, rapidly transmissible and affected cattle, buffaloes, yaks and many other domesticated and wild even-toed ungulates.

It is reported to have had originated in Central Eurasia, and later spread to Europe and Asia, according to trade and migration routes. The disease was also reported in the Americas and Australia in a lower prevalence.

Rinderpest triggered extensive famines in Africa and hindered agricultural development in Asia.

Efforts to understand the pathogeny of the disease and to provide adequate treatment and prevention were the driving force for scientific breakthroughs in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Rinderpest: at the origin of the creation of the OIE

The vast repercussions of the disease at social and economic levels led in 1924 to the creation of the OIE, seeking for controlling infectious animal diseases at an international level and then to the creation of several Veterinary Medicine schools across Europe and Asia.

In 1920, rinderpest occurred unexpectedly in Belgium, when infected zebu cattle from India on their way to Brazil stopped in transit at the port of Antwerp.

At the initiative of France, an international conference was held to which all countries were invited. The conference was held in Paris in May 1921. It called for the establishment, in Paris, of an international office for the control of infectious animal diseases.


2011 – Global freedom from rinderpest

The world was officially declared free from rinderpest in 2011 in the course of the 79th OIE General Session.

Rinderpest, once the scourge of societies across Asia, Europe and Africa, is only the second infectious disease, after smallpox for humans, to have been eradicated globally thanks to decades of internationally concerted effort.

Declaration of world-freedom from rinderpest at the 79th OIE General Session (2011)

Although the rinderpest virus no longer circulates amongst animals, the world remains vulnerable to a reoccurrence of the disease, due to virus stocks, vaccines as well as biologic samples which may contain the virus, still stored in several premises across the world.

Therefore, OIE and FAO closely collaborate to ensure that any rinderpest virus containing material is safely kept in high-containment storage facilities.

Rinderpest remains a notifiable disease and adequate surveillance systems must be maintained for the early detection of clinical cases, should there be any accidental escape of the virus. The OIE and the FAO will ensure the permanent availability of awareness materials to raise awareness demonstrating the range of signs associated with rinderpest cases in live animals, as well as the post eradication biothreat reduction activities.

Furthermore, the OIE is currently working on strategies to make progress in the international control, over the coming years, of other worrisome diseases such as foot and mouth disease, rabies and peste des petits ruminants.


Let’s make sure rinderpest stays history

In the scope of maintaining global freedom and keeping the memory of Rinderpest alive, the OIE has launched an exhaustive campaign to be implemented in its 182 Member Countries, to make sure that all actors are fully aware of rinderpest challenges. A range of tools will ensure that they know the role they still have to play in the post-eradication era: discover the campaign tools here

The keyword for this campaign is Vigilance. Because, only with the continuous vigilance of these key players, at local and national level, will we keep our world free from rinderpest

In the 1960s, mass vaccination campaigns in the Member Countries concerned, accompanied by movement control and stamping out measures, led to a substantial decline in the disease, which however made a devastating reappearance on the African continent 20 years later, in the 1980s, due to the interruption of vaccination programmes.

The international response to this resurgence of the disease was led by OIE’s action, in particular through the publication of recommended standards for the establishment of epidemiological surveillance systems and official free status recognition for rinderpest.

This contained an OIE programme for eligible Member Countries to be officially recognised as enjoying rinderpest-free status.


Timeline

Rinderpest Eradication Graph
Rinderpest Eradication Timeline

Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme (GREP)

In parallel, the United Nations (UN) became very actively involved through the GREP coordinated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the OIE and the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, as of the 1990s, with the aim of obtaining, by 2011 at the very latest, an official declaration of World rinderpest eradication.

Ever since then OIE has been collaborating with FAO to promote the maintenance of global freedom from Rinderpest infection and the safe storage of rinderpest virus containing material.

GREP’s post-eradication strategy includes reviewing and ensuring sequestration of all remaining infectious rinderpest virus samples and developing a contingency plan for unexpected outbreaks.


Historical pictures

The bronze statue of a wild buffalo near the entrance of Meru National Park, in Kenya, celebrates the last case of the disease (2010)
“Global Rinderpest Eradication Memorial Stone” at Indian Veterinary Research Institute (2012)
With the infection eradicated both from livestock and wildlife, the OIE moves on to a post-eradication era with new challenges lying ahead.

Maintaining global freedom from rinderpest

Although the rinderpest virus no longer circulates amongst live animals, virus stocks, vaccines and biologic samples are still present in around 20 laboratories across the world, mainly for the production of vaccines in the event the disease were to reappear due to an accident or an act of bioterrorism.

Until these potential sources of rinderpest virus are either safely destroyed or transferred to one of the high –containment facilities, approved by OIE and FAO, the world remains at risk of a reoccurrence of rinderpest.

In order to not forget the threat of RPV the OIE has developed a new rinderpest vigilance campaign.

The purpose of the campaign is to make sure that everyone involved in animal health is fully aware of rinderpest challenges and of the role that they still have to play in the post-eradication era, to protect this achievement.

The objective of the campaign are:  to ensure that rinderpest occupies an appropriate place in veterinary education curricula; to maintain professional veterinary knowledge of rinderpest to enable effective surveillance for rapid detection, notification and response in case of a resurgence of rinderpest; To guide laboratories to get rid of any rinderpest virus-containing material stocks.


Global commitment from Member Countries

All 180 OIE Member Countries signed up to a Resolution at the OIE General Session in May 2011, committing themselves to destroy remaining virus or safely store them in a minimum number of approved high containment laboratories; to remain vigilant to reoccurrences of the disease; and to cease all unapproved research activities. A parallel resolution was adopted by FAO in June 2011. The OIE and FAO are working to ensure that these actions are urgently and fully implemented to prevent this dreadful disease from resurfacing.

The OIE, in collaboration with the FAO and with Member Countries, is committed to ensuring that the process is carried out in a reliable and transparent manner.


Designation of facilities as approved for holding rinderpest virus containing material

In May 2019 at the OIE General Session, the OIE World Assembly of Delegates adopted resolutions to maintain the designation of the following facilities as approved for holding rinderpest virus containing material (subject to re-evaluation every 3 years). 

A) Rinderpest Holding Facility for storing rinderpest virus containing material, excluding vaccine stocks

  1. African Union Pan African Veterinary Vaccine Centre (AU-PANVAC), Debre-Zeit, Ethiopia.
  2. Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD), Montpellier, France
  3. China Institute of Veterinary Drug Control/China Veterinary Culture Collection Center (IVDC), Beijing, China
  4. High Containment Facilities of Exotic Diseases Research Station, National Institute of Animal Health, Kodaira, Tokyo, Japan. 
  5. USDA-APHIS, Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (FADDL), Plum Island, New York, United States of America.
  6. The Pirbright Institute, United Kingdom.

B) Rinderpest Vaccine Holding Facility for storing only manufactured vaccines, vaccine stocks and material solely for their production:

  1. Pan African Veterinary Vaccine Centre African Union (AU-PANVAC), Debre-Zeit, Ethiopia
  2. Building for Safety Evaluation Research, Production Center for Biologicals; Building for Biologics Research and Development (storage), National Institute of Animal Health, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.
  3. Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD), Montpellier, France
  4. China Institute of Veterinary Drug Control/China Veterinary Culture Collection Center (IVDC), Beijing, China

OIE Resolutions

adopted during OIE General Sessions (GS)

Global Rinderpest Action Plan

The Global Rinderpest Action Plan (GRAP) is an OIE-FAO joint document that lays out the roles and responsibilities of all relevant stakeholders in the 5 stages of the emergency management cycle (prepare, prevent, detect, respond, recover) related to a potential re-emergence of rinderpest. The GRAP is largely based on the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code chapter on Infection with rinderpest virusalong with elements from the FAO Good Emergency Management Practicepublication, and complements all national and regional contingency plans. This document enables Veterinary Services to identify and prioritize gaps to be addressed to best prepare for, respond to, and mitigate the consequences of a rinderpest outbreak in the post-eradication era. It includes provisions for the management and deployment of the rinderpest vaccine reserves, held by OIE-FAO designated Rinderpest Holding Facilities.


 Joint Advisory Committee

The FAO and the OIE have formed a Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) made up of seven of the most highly qualified individuals. The JAC also provides guidance to the Directors General of the OIE and FAO in, among others, approving rinderpest research proposals and high containment facilities responsible for safeguarding the virus.

Central pillars to the OIE’s role in the post-eradication era are the FAO-OIE rinderpest Joint Advisory Committee and the OIE Reference Laboratories for rinderpest; both provide technical support to the OIE.


Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) Meeting reports


References

Rinderpest was declared as eradicated worldwide by the OIE and FAO in May and June 2011.

In accordance with the decision taken by the World Assembly at the 79th General Session, Members are now exempted from annual reconfirmation for rinderpest free status.


List of Rinderpest-free Members

According to RESOLUTION No. 15 (79th General Session of World Assembly, May 2011)

Free from rinderpest

OIE Members recognised as free from rinderpest, according to the provisions of Chapter 8.14. of the Terrestrial Code :

AfghanistanCzech Rep.LaosRussia
AlbaniaDenmarkLatviaRwanda
AlgeriaDjiboutiLebanonSao Tomé and Principe
AndorraDominican Rep.LesothoSan Marino
AngolaEcuadorLibyaSaudi Arabia
ArgentinaEgyptLiechtensteinSenegal
ArmeniaEl SalvadorLithuaniaSerbia (1)
AustraliaEquatorial GuineaLuxembourgSeychelles
AustriaEritreaMadagascarSierra Leone
AzerbaijanEstoniaMalawiSingapore
BahamasEthiopiaMalaysiaSlovakia
BahrainFijiMaldivesSlovenia
BangladeshFinlandMaliSomalia
BarbadosFormer Yug. Rep. of MacedoniaMaltaSouth Africa
BelarusFranceMauritaniaSpain
BelgiumGabonMauritiusSri Lanka
BelizeGambiaMexicoSudan
BeninGeorgiaMicronesia (Fed. St.)Suriname
BhutanGermanyMoldovaSwaziland
BoliviaGhanaMongoliaSweden
Bosnia and HerzegovinaGreeceMontenegroSwitzerland
BotswanaGuatemalaMoroccoSyria
BrazilGuineaMozambiqueTajikistan
BruneiGuinea BissauMyanmarTanzania
BulgariaGuyanaNamibiaTimor Leste
Burkina FasoHaitiNepalThailand
BurundiHondurasNetherlandsTogo
CambodiaHungaryNew CaledoniaTrinidad and Tobago
CameroonIcelandNew ZealandTunisia
CanadaIndiaNicaraguaTurkey
Cape VerdeIndonesiaNigerTurkmenistan
Central African RepublicIranNigeriaUganda
ChadIraqNorwayUkraine
ChileIrelandOmanUnited Arab Emirates
ChinaIsraelPakistanUnited Kingdom
Chinese TaipeiItalyPanamaUnited States of America
ColombiaJamaicaPapua New GuineaUruguay
ComorosJapanParaguayUzbekistan
CongoJordanPeruVanuatu
Congo (Dem. Rep. of the)KazakhstanPhilippinesVenezuela
Côte d’IvoireKenyaPolandVietnam
Costa RicaKorea (Dem.Rep.of)PortugalYemen
CroatiaKorea (Rep. of)QatarZambia
CubaKuwaitRomaniaZimbabwe
CyprusKyrgyzstan
(1) : Excluding Kosovo administered by the United Nations

Non-OIE Members recognised as free from rinderpest, according to the provisions of Chapter 8.14. of the Terrestrial Code :

Antigua and BarbudaMarshall IslandsSt Kitts and Nevis
Cook IslandsNauruSt Lucia
DominicaNiueSt Vincent and the Grenadines
GrenadaPalauTonga
KiribatiPalestinian Auton. TerritoriesTuvalu
KosovoSamoaVatican
LiberiaSolomon Islands