Friday, October 15, 2010

Goodbye, Rinderpest

Yesterday, for only the second time in history, scientists announced that they had successfully eradicated a viral disease. Rinderpest, a cattle disease, has not infected any animal since 2001.

It's a nasty virus, with near-100% mortality rates in infected populations. Some experiments in innoculation were done in the late 18th century, and vaccination was somewhat successful early in the 20th century. However, the real advance was Walter Plowright's tissue culture rinderpest vaccine (TCRV). Three million dollars of vaccinations have saved 45 billion dollars of cattle.

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