Sunday, 1 April 2007


In 1896 Rinderpest broke out in South Africa, causing much harm to farmers and having a serious effect on the country as a whole.

What is Rinderpest?

According to Wikipedia “Rinderpest was established as an infectious disease in 1754 when susceptible animals were infected by placing bits of material previously dipped in “morbid discharge” into an incision made in the dewlap (a flap of skin that hangs beneath the chin of an animal). In 1899, cattle were infected with a bacteria-free filtrate. (Photo: Department of Agriculture)

“An epidemic in the 1890s killed 80 to 90 percent of all cattle in Southern Africa. Sir Arnold Theiler was instrumental in developing a vaccine that curbed the epidemic. More recently, another rinderpest outbreak that raged across much of Africa in 1982-84 is estmated to have cost at least US$500 million in stock losses.”

According to Rudy’s List of Archaic Medical Terms Rinderpest (German for cattle-plague, which is the English synonym) is one of the most infectious and fatal diseases of oxen, sheep, goats, camels, buffaloes, yaks, deer, etc.; a virulent eruptive fever which runs its course so rapidly and attacks such a large percentage of ruminants when it is introduced into a country, that from the earliest times it has excited terror and dismay. It is an Asiatic malady, and has prevailed extensively in South Russia, Central Asia, China, Indo-China, Burma, India, Persia, Ceylon and the Malay Archipelago. Thence it has at times been carried into Europe, and towards the end of the 19th century into South Africa. It appeared in Egypt in 1844 and 1865, Abyssinia in 1890, Japan in 1892, and the Philippines in 1898. [Britannica, 1911].

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