A United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said it is confident that a virus which can be deadly to cattle has been eradicated. If confirmed, rinderpest would become the second viral disease - after smallpox - to have been eliminated by humans.
The rinderpest virus can devastate cattle herds and is particularly prevalent in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Sheep can also be affected but the mortality rate is not as high as in cattle.
When the disease arrived in Africa at the end of the nineteenth century, between 80 percent and 90 percent of cattle and buffalo on the continent were killed. The eradication of the virus has been described as the biggest achievement in veterinary history and one that will save the lives and livelihoods of millions of the poorest people in the world.
The latest FAO progress report on the rinderpest eradication program said, "As of mid-2010, FAO is confident that the rinderpest virus has been eliminated from Europe, Asia, Middle East, Arabian Peninsula and Africa."
These are the regions afflicted by the viral disease in the recent past.
Reprinted in part from BBC