Discoverer of Rinderpest vaccine dies

Anyone whose ancestors lived in Africa in the 1890s has probably heard of Rinderpest, the greatest natural disaster to strike the continent, probably even more devastating than the HIV/Aids epidemic. Railways were in their infancy, so the death of draft animals meant farmers couldn’t get their produce to market and trav ellers were stranded. Populations dependent on cattle for food, like the Maasai of Kenya, were decimated or worse.
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Walter Plowright developed a vaccine against the cattle virus rinderpest that
has effectively eradicated a disease that devastated cattle herds all over
the world. After he initiated mass vaccination programmes in the developing
world Plowright was hailed for transforming cattle-based economies that had
been blighted by the virus. The vaccine has also led to a massive boost in
global supplies of meat and dairy products.

The announcement that rinderpest has been eradicated is expected this year. It
is only the second disease in history to have been eradicated through human
efforts, the first being smallpox.

Plowright was a veterinary surgeon and research scientist who fought the
disease by providing a simple, affordable and easily administered vaccine. A
single dose of his tissue culture rinderpest vaccine (TCRV) provided lasting
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