Kenya declared free from Rinderpest
Date Published: 24 Jan, 2011
President Mwai Kibaki unveils the Buffalo monument at Meru National Park symbolising the eradication of Rinderpest disease in the country
Kenya has been declared officially free from the rinderpest. President Mwai Kibaki on November 26, 2010 led the country in celebrations to mark the eradication of the disease at the Meru National Park where he unveiled a monument and a commemorative plaque.Speaking at the event, the President said the eradication had been a culmination of over 50 years of concerted efforts by the Government in partnership with several development partners as well as international organizations that deal with animal health.The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Livestock Development, Kenneth Lusaka, said rinderpest was one of the major diseases classified by the World Organisation for Animal Health as being trade sensitive. “Africa is estimated to have lost approximately two billion dollars in the 1980s to the disease outbreak and its eradication will therefore reduce disease barriers to International Trade,” Lusaka added.
The park was chosen to host the event as it was the site where the disease was last detected, among a herd of buffaloes, in October 2001. Since then, concerted surveillance activities have been conducted all over the country to ascertain complete absence of the disease.Other cases of the disease in wildlife were reported in Tsavo and Nairobi National Parks in 1994 and 2001 respectively.This now significantly marks the end of all field activities on rinderpest, which, apart from smallpox, becomes the only other disease that has been eliminated by human efforts.The Kenya Wildlife Service was among other organizations recognized for surveillance and experimental activities over the years, which were critical in achieving the eradication objective. Kenya had last year received accreditation for attaining a rinderpest-free status from the International Organisation for Animal Health. A joint Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) announcement is expected in mid-2011, pending a review of final official disease status reports from a few countries by the OIE.
Rinderpest is a fatal viral disease that affects mainly domestic cattle and buffaloes. It also affects sheep, goats, some breeds of pigs and a large variety of wildlife species including kudu, elands, roan antelopes, warthogs, gazelles and giraffes. The disease can be transmitted through close contact between a sick animal and a healthy one. Affected animals show a sudden onset of fever, nasal discharges, erosion of the mouth, diarrhea, and dehydration, which lead to death.Rinderpest has affected Europe, Asia and Africa for centuries, causing widespread famine and decimation of millions of animals, both domestic and wild.The disease can affect and kill up to 100% of the animals in fully susceptible populations.