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Rinderpest morbillivirus
Rinderpest Virus.JPG
Virus classification Red Pencil Icon.png
(unranked): Virus
Phylum: Negarnaviricota
Class: Monjiviricetes
Order: Mononegavirales
Family: Paramyxoviridae
Genus: Morbillivirus
Rinderpest morbillivirus
Synonyms [1]

Rinderpest virus

Rinderpest (also cattle plague or steppe murrain) was an infectious viral disease of cattle, domestic buffalo, and many other species of even-toed ungulates, including buffaloes, large antelope and deer, giraffes, wildebeests, and warthogs. [2] The disease was characterized by fever, oral erosions, diarrhea, lymphoid necrosis, and high mortality. Death rates during outbreaks were usually extremely high, approaching 100% in immunologically naïve populations. [3] Rinderpest was mainly transmitted by direct contact and by drinking contaminated water, although it could also be transmitted by air. [4] After a global eradication campaign since the mid-1900s, the last confirmed case of rinderpest was diagnosed in 2001. [5]

A viral disease, occurs when an organism's body is invaded by pathogenic viruses, and infectious virus particles (virions) attach to and enter susceptible cells.

Cattle domesticated form of Aurochs

Cattle—colloquially cows—are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos taurus.

Water buffalo species of large bovid originating in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and China

The water buffalo or domestic water buffalo is a large bovid originating in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and China. Today, it is also found in Europe, Australia, North America, South America and some African countries. The wild water buffalo native to Southeast Asia is considered a different species, but most likely represents the ancestor of the domestic water buffalo.


On 14 October 2010, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced that field activities in the decades-long, worldwide campaign to eradicate the disease were ending, paving the way for a formal declaration in June 2011 of the global eradication of rinderpest. [6] On 25 May 2011, the World Organisation for Animal Health announced the free status of the last eight countries not yet recognized (a total of 198 countries were now free of the disease), officially declaring the eradication of the disease. [7] In June 2011, the United Nations FAO confirmed the disease was eradicated, making rinderpest only the second disease in history to be fully wiped out (outside laboratory stocks), following smallpox. [8]

United Nations Intergovernmental organization

The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that was tasked to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international co-operation and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations. The headquarters of the UN is in Manhattan, New York City, and is subject to extraterritoriality. Further main offices are situated in Geneva, Nairobi, and Vienna. The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states. Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development and upholding international law. The UN is the largest, most familiar, most internationally represented and most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world. In 24 October 1945, at the end of World War II, the organization was established with the aim of preventing future wars. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193. The UN is the successor of the ineffective League of Nations.

Food and Agriculture Organization International organisation with the objective of ending hunger

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate arguments and debate policy.

World Organisation for Animal Health

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) is an intergovernmental organization coordinating, supporting and promoting animal disease control.

Rinderpest is believed to have originated in Asia, later spreading through the transport of cattle. [9] The term Rinderpest is a German word meaning "cattle-plague". [2] [9] The rinderpest virus (RPV) was closely related to the measles and canine distemper viruses. [10] The measles virus emerged from rinderpest as a zoonotic disease between 1000 and 1100 AD, a period that may have been preceded by limited outbreaks involving a virus not yet fully acclimated to humans. [11]

Asia Earths largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres

Asia is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the continent of Europe and the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with both Europe and Africa. Asia covers an area of 44,579,000 square kilometres (17,212,000 sq mi), about 30% of Earth's total land area and 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area. The continent, which has long been home to the majority of the human population, was the site of many of the first civilizations. Asia is notable for not only its overall large size and population, but also dense and large settlements, as well as vast barely populated regions. Its 4.5 billion people constitute roughly 60% of the world's population.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Virus Type of non-cellular infectious agent

A virus is a small infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of an organism. Viruses can infect all types of life forms, from animals and plants to microorganisms, including bacteria and archaea.


Rinderpest virus (RPV), a member of the genus Morbillivirus , is closely related to the measles and canine distemper viruses. [10] Like other members of the Paramyxoviridae family, it produces enveloped virions, and is a negative-sense single-stranded RNA virus. The virus was particularly fragile and is quickly inactivated by heat, desiccation and sunlight. [12]

<i>Morbillivirus</i> genus of viruses

Morbillivirus is a genus of viruses in the order Mononegavirales, in the family Paramyxoviridae. Humans, dogs, cats, cattle, and cetaceans serve as natural hosts. This genus currently included seven species. Diseases in humans associated with viruses classified in this genus include measles: fever, and rash; in animals, they include acute febrile respiratory tract infection.

Measles viral disease affecting humans

Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease caused by the measles virus. Symptoms usually develop 10–12 days after exposure to an infected person and last 7–10 days. Initial symptoms typically include fever, often greater than 40 °C (104.0 °F), cough, runny nose, and inflamed eyes. Small white spots known as Koplik's spots may form inside the mouth two or three days after the start of symptoms. A red, flat rash which usually starts on the face and then spreads to the rest of the body typically begins three to five days after the start of symptoms. Common complications include diarrhea, middle ear infection (7%), and pneumonia (6%). Less commonly seizures, blindness, or inflammation of the brain may occur. Other names include morbilli, rubeola, red measles, and English measles. Rubella, which is sometimes called German measles, and roseola are different diseases caused by unrelated viruses.

Canine distemper dog disease

Canine distemper is a viral disease that affects a wide variety of animal families, including domestic and wild species of dogs, coyotes, foxes, pandas, wolves, ferrets, skunks, raccoons, and large cats, as well as pinnipeds, some primates, and a variety of other species. Animals in the family Felidae, including many species of large cat as well as domestic cats, were long believed to be resistant to canine distemper, until some researchers reported the prevalence of CDV infection in large felids. Both large Felidae and domestic cats are now known to be capable of infection, usually through close housing with dogs or possibly blood transfusion from infected cats, but such infections appear to be self-limiting and largely without symptoms.

Measles virus evolved from the then-widespread rinderpest virus most probably between the 11th and 12th centuries. [11] The earliest likely origin is during the seventh century; some linguistic evidence exists for this earlier origin. [13] [14]


A cow with rinderpest in the "milk fever" position, 1982 Rinderpest milk fever.jpg
A cow with rinderpest in the "milk fever" position, 1982

Death rates during outbreaks were usually extremely high, approaching 100% in immunologically naïve populations. [3] The disease was mainly spread by direct contact and by drinking contaminated water, although it could also be transmitted by air. [4]

Initial symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, and nasal and eye discharges. Subsequently, irregular erosions appear in the mouth, the lining of the nose, and the genital tract. [3] Acute diarrhea, preceded by constipation, is also a common feature. [4] Most animals die 6-12 days after the onset of these clinical signs. [3]

History and epizootics

Rinderpest outbreak in 18th-century Netherlands Runderpest in Nederland 18e eeuw.jpg
Rinderpest outbreak in 18th-century Netherlands

Stone age

The disease is believed to have originated in Asia, later spreading through the transport of cattle. [9] Other cattle epizootics are noted in ancient times: a cattle plague is thought to be one of the 10 plagues of Egypt described in the Hebrew Bible. By around 3,000 BC, a cattle plague had reached Egypt, and rinderpest later spread throughout the remainder of Africa, following European colonization. [9]

18th century

Cattle plagues recurred throughout history, often accompanying wars and military campaigns. They hit Europe especially hard in the 18th century, with three long panzootics, which although varying in intensity and duration from region to region, took place in the periods of 1709–1720, 1742–1760, and 1768–1786. [15]


In the early 18th century, the disease was seen as similar to smallpox, due to its analogous symptoms. The personal physician of the pope, Giovanni Maria Lancisi, recommended the slaughter of all infected and exposed animals. This policy was not very popular and used only sparingly in the first part of the century. Later, it was used successfully in several countries, although it was sometimes seen as too costly or drastic, and depended on a strong central authority to be effective (which was notably lacking in the Dutch Republic). Because of these downsides, numerous attempts were made to inoculate animals against the disease. These attempts met with varying success, but the procedure was not widely used and was no longer practiced at all in 19th-century Western or Central Europe. Rinderpest was an immense problem, but inoculation was not a valid solution. In many cases, it caused too many losses. Even more importantly, it perpetuated the circulation of the virus in the cattle population. The pioneers of inoculation did contribute significantly to knowledge about infectious diseases. Their experiments confirmed the concepts of those who saw infectious diseases as caused by specific agents, and were the first to recognize maternally derived immunity. [10]

Early English experimentation

The first written report of rinderpest inoculation was published in a letter signed 'T.S.' in the November 1754 issue of The Gentleman's Magazine , [10] a widely read journal which also supported the progress of smallpox inoculation. This letter reported that a Mr Dobsen had inoculated his cattle and had thus preserved 9 out of 10 of them, although this was retracted in the next issue, as it was apparently a Sir William St. Quintin who had done the inoculating (this was done by placing bits of material previously dipped in morbid discharge into an incision made in the dewlap of the animal). These letters encouraged further application of inoculation in the fight against diseases. The first inoculation against measles was made three years after their publication. [10]

From early 1755 onwards, experiments were taking place in the Netherlands, as well, results of which were also published in The Gentleman's Magazine. As in England, the disease was seen as analogous with smallpox. While these experiments were reasonably successful, they did not have a significant impact: The total number of inoculations in England appears to have been very limited, and after 1780, the English interest in inoculation disappeared almost entirely. [10] Almost all further experimentation was done in the Netherlands, northern Germany and Denmark.

Further trials in the Netherlands

Due to a very severe outbreak at the end of the 1760s, some of the best-known names in Dutch medicine became involved in the struggle against the disease. Several independent trials were begun, most notably by Pieter Camper in Groningen and Friesland. The results of his experiment in Friesland were encouraging, but they proved to be the exception; testing by others in the provinces of Utrecht and Friesland obtained disastrous results. As a result, the Frisian authorities concluded in 1769 that the cause of rinderpest was God's displeasure with the sinful behavior of the Frisian people, and proclaimed 15 November a day of fasting and prayer. Interest in inoculation declined sharply across the country. [10]

In this climate of discouragement and scepticism, Geert Reinders, a farmer in the province of Groningen and a self-taught man, decided to continue the experiments. He collaborated with Wijnold Munniks, who had supervised earlier trials. They tried different inoculation procedures and a variety of treatments to lighten the symptoms, all of them without significant effect. Although they were not able to perfect the inoculation procedure, they did make some useful observations. [10]

Reinders resumed his experiments in 1774, concentrating on the inoculation of calves from cows that had recovered from rinderpest. He was probably the first to make practical use of maternally derived immunity. [10] The detailed results of his trials were published in 1776 and reprinted in 1777. His inoculation procedure did not differ much from what had been used previously, except for the use of three separate inoculations at an early age. This produced far better results, and the publication of his work renewed interest in inoculation. For the period of 1777 to 1781, 89% of inoculated animals survived, compared to a 29% survival rate after natural infection. [10]

In the Netherlands, too, interest in rinderpest inoculation declined in the 1780s because the disease itself decreased in intensity.

In other countries

Apart from the Dutch Republic, the only other regions where inoculation was used to any significant level were northern Germany and Denmark. Experiments started in Mecklenburg during the epizootic of the late 1770s. 'Insurance companies' were created which provided inoculation in special 'institutes'. Although these were private initiatives, they were created with full encouragement from the authorities. Though neighboring states followed this practice with interest, the practice never caught on outside Mecklenburg; many were still opposed to inoculation. [10]

While some experimentation occurred in other countries (most extensively in Denmark), in the majority of European countries, the struggle against the disease was based on stamping it out. Sometimes this could be done with minimal sacrifices; at other times, it required slaughter at a massive scale. [10]

19th century

Cows dead from rinderpest in South Africa, 1896 Rinderpest 1896-CN.jpg
Cows dead from rinderpest in South Africa, 1896

A major outbreak covered the whole of the insular United Kingdom for three years after 1865. [16]

Around the turn of the century, a plague struck in Southern Africa. [16] The outbreak in the 1890s killed an estimated 80 to 90% of all cattle in eastern and southern Africa, as well as in the Horn of Africa. Sir Arnold Theiler was instrumental in developing a vaccine that curbed the epizootic. The loss of animals caused famine which depopulated sub-Saharan Africa, allowing thornbush to colonise. This formed ideal habitat for tsetse fly, which carries sleeping sickness, and is unsuitable for livestock. [17]

20th century

In his classic study of the Nuer of southern Sudan, E. E. Evans-Pritchard suggested rinderpest might have affected the Nuer's social organization before and during the 1930s. Since the Nuer were pastoralists, much of their livelihood was based on cattle husbandry, and bride-prices were paid in cattle; prices may have changed as a result of cattle depletion. Rinderpest might also have increased dependence on horticulture among the Nuer. [18]

A more recent rinderpest outbreak in Africa in 1982–1984 resulted in an estimated US$2 billion in stock losses. [19]


In 1917-18, Dr. William Hutchins Boynton (1881-1959), the chief veterinary pathologist with the Philippine Bureau of Agriculture, developed an early vaccine for rinderpest, based on treated animal organ extracts. [20] [21]

Dr Walter Plowright worked on a vaccine for the RBOK strain of the rinderpest virus for about a decade, from 1956 to 1962. [22] Plowright was awarded the World Food Prize in 1999 for developing a vaccine against a strain of rinderpest. In 1999, the FAO predicted that with vaccination, rinderpest would be eradicated by 2010. [23]


Widespread eradication efforts took place as soon as the early 1900s; in 1924, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) was formed in response to rinderpest. [24] Until the mid-1900s, eradication efforts largely took place on an individual country basis, using vaccination campaigns. [24] In 1950, the Inter-African Bureau of Epizootic Diseases was formed, with the stated goal of eliminating rinderpest from Africa. [24] During the 1960s, a program called JP 15 attempted to vaccinate all cattle in participating countries; by 1979, only one of the countries involved, Sudan, reported cases of rinderpest. [24]

In 1969, an outbreak of the disease originated in Afghanistan, travelling westwards and promoting a mass vaccination plan, which by 1972, had eliminated rinderpest in all areas of Asia except for Lebanon and India; both countries were the site of further occurrences of the disease in the 1980s. [24]

During the 1980s, however, an outbreak of rinderpest from Sudan spread throughout Africa, killing millions of cattle, as well as wildlife. [24] In response, the Pan-African Rinderpest Campaign was initiated in 1987, using vaccination and surveillance to combat the disease. [24] By the 1990s, nearly all of Africa, with the exception of parts of Sudan and Somalia, was declared free of rinderpest. [24]

Worldwide, the Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme was initiated in 1994, supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization, the OIE, and the International Atomic Energy Agency. [24] This program was successful in reducing rinderpest outbreaks to few and far between by the late 1990s. [24] The program is estimated to have saved affected farmers 58 million net Euro. [25]

The last confirmed case of rinderpest was reported in Kenya in 2001. [26] Since then, while no cases have been confirmed, the disease is believed to have been present in parts of Somalia past that date. [26] The final vaccinations were administered in 2006, and the last surveillance operations took place in 2009, failing to find any evidence of the disease. [26]

In 2008, scientists involved in rinderpest eradication efforts believed a good chance existed that rinderpest would join smallpox as officially "wiped off the face of the planet". [5] The FAO, which had been co-ordinating the global eradication program for the disease, announced in November 2009 that it expected the disease to be eradicated within 18 months. [27]

In October 2010, the FAO announced it was confident the disease has been eradicated. [6] The agency said that "[a]s of mid 2010, FAO is confident that the rinderpest virus has been eliminated from Europe, Asia, Middle East, Arabian Peninsula, and Africa," which were the locations where the virus had been last reported. [6] Eradication was confirmed by the World Organization for Animal Health on 25 May 2011. [7]

On 28 June 2011, FAO and its members countries officially recognized global freedom from the deadly cattle virus. On this day, the FAO Conference, the highest body of the UN agency, adopted a resolution declaring the eradication of rinderpest. The resolution also called on the world community to follow up by ensuring that samples of rinderpest viruses and vaccines be kept under safe laboratory conditions and that rigorous standards for disease surveillance and reporting be applied. "While we are celebrating one of the greatest successes for FAO and its partners, I wish to remind you that this extraordinary achievement would not have been possible without the joint efforts and strong commitments of governments, the main organizations in Africa, Asia and Europe, and without the continuous support of donors and international institutions", FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf commented. [28]

The rinderpest eradication effort is estimated to have cost $5 billion. [29]

Stocks of the rinderpest virus are still maintained by highly specialized laboratories. [26] In 2015, FAO launched a campaign calling for the destruction or sequestering of the remaining stocks of rinderpest virus in laboratories in 24 different countries, citing risks of inadvertent or malicious release. [30]

Use as a biological weapon

Rinderpest was one of more than a dozen agents the United States researched as potential biological weapons before terminating its biological weapons program. [31]

Rinderpest is of concern as a biological weapon for the following reasons:

Rinderpest was also considered as a biological weapon in the United Kingdom's program during World War II. [33]

See also


  1. "ICTV Taxonomy history: Rinderpest morbillivirus" (html). International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV). Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  2. 1 2 Donald G. McNeil Jr. (27 June 2011). "Rinderpest, Scourge of Cattle, Is Vanquished". The New York Times . Retrieved 28 June 2011.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Exotic animal diseases - Rinderpest". .dpi.qld.gov.au. Archived from the original on March 30, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
  4. 1 2 3 "Rinderpest - the toll and treatment of a plague". Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). 1996. Archived from the original on 1997-06-09.
  5. 1 2 Dennis Normile (2008). "Driven to Extinction". Science . 319 (5870): 1606–1609. doi:10.1126/science.319.5870.1606. PMID   18356500 . Retrieved 2009-03-28.
  6. 1 2 3 "UN 'confident' disease has been wiped out". BBC News. 14 October 2010. Retrieved 14 October 2010.
  7. 1 2 "No More Deaths From Rinderpest" (Press release). World Organisation for Animal Health. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
  8. McNeil Jr, Donald G. (27 June 2011). "Rinderpest, a Centuries-Old Animal Disease, Is Eradicated". The New York Times.
  9. 1 2 3 4 Donald G. McNeil Jr. (15 October 2010). "Virus Deadly in Livestock Is No More, U.N. Declares". The New York Times . Retrieved 15 October 2010.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Huygelen, C. (1997). "The immunization of cattle against rinderpest in eighteenth-century Europe". Medical History. 41 (2): 182–196. doi:10.1017/s0025727300062372. PMC   1043905 . PMID   9156464.
  11. 1 2 Furuse, Yuki; Akira Suzuki; Hitoshi Oshitani (2010-03-04). "Origin of measles virus: divergence from rinderpest virus between the 11th and 12th centuries". Virology Journal. 7: 52. doi:10.1186/1743-422X-7-52. ISSN   1743-422X. PMC   2838858 . PMID   20202190.
  12. "Rinderpest". Disease Facts. Institute for Animal Health. Archived from the original on June 26, 2009. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
  13. Griffin DE. In: Fields VIROLOGY. 5. Knipe DM, Howley PM, editor. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2007. Measles Virus
  14. McNeil W. Plagues and Peoples. New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday. 1976
  15. Broad, J. (1983). "Cattle Plague in Eighteenth-Century England" (PDF). Agricultural History Review. 31 (2): 104–115. Retrieved 2013-09-17.
  16. 1 2 https://www.jstor.org/stable/260973.Missing or empty |title= (help)
  17. Pearce, Fred (12 August 2000). "Inventing Africa" (PDF). New Scientist. 167 (2251): 30.
  18. Evans-Pritchard, E. E. (1940). The Nuer: A description of the modes of livelihood and political institutions of a Nilotic people. Oxford University Press.
  19. "Progress against rinderpest — livestock disease — threatened as a re-emergence of virus noted in Kenya, Somalia". United Nations. 20 November 2002. AFR/520-SAG/112. Retrieved 2018-01-10.
  20. Boynton, W.H. (1917). "Preliminary report on the virulence of certain body organs in riderpest". Philippine Agricultural Review. 10 (4): 410–433.
  21. Boynton, W.H. (1918). "Use of organ extracts instead of virulent blood in immunization and hyperimmunization against rinderpest". Philippine Journal of Science. 13 (3): 151–158.
  22. Plowright, W.; Ferris, R. D. (1962). "Studies with rinderpest virus in tissue culture. The use of attenuated culture virus as a vaccine for cattle". Res Vet Sci. 3: 172–182.
  23. "EMPRES Transboundary Animal Diseases Bulletin No. 11 - Rinderpest". Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). 1923-07-20. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
  24. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "History of battle against rinderpest". International Atomic Energy Association. Retrieved 15 October 2010.
  25. Tambi, EN; Maina, OW; Mukhebi, AW; Randolph, TF (1999). "Economic impact assessment of rinderpest control in Africa". Rev Sci Tech. 18 (2): 458–77. doi:10.20506/rst.18.2.1164. PMID   10472679.
  26. 1 2 3 4 Sample, Ian (14 October 2010). "Scientists eradicate deadly rinderpest virus". The Guardian . London. Retrieved 15 October 2010.
  27. Platt, John (30 November 2009). "Cattle plague: An extinction worth celebrating". Scientific American . Retrieved 30 November 2009.
  28. "Rinderpest eradicated, what's next?" (Press release). Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). 28 June 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
  29. McNeil Jr, Donald G. (27 June 2011). "Rinderpest". New York Times.
  30. "Maintaining global freedom from Rinderpest" (Press release). Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). 1 November 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  31. "Chemical and Biological Weapons: Possession and Programs Past and Present" (PDF). James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Middlebury College. April 9, 2002. Retrieved November 14, 2008.
  32. "Rinderpest". CIDRAP. Archived from the original on 24 June 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  33. Bowcott, Owen; Evans, Rob (16 May 2010). "British secret biological warfare testing". The Guardian. London.

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Smallpox infectious disease that has been eradicated

Smallpox was an infectious disease caused by one of two virus variants, variola major and variola minor. The last naturally occurring case was diagnosed in October 1977 and the World Health Organization (WHO) certified the global eradication of the disease in 1980. The risk of death following contracting the disease was about 30%, with higher rates among babies. Often those who survived had extensive scarring of their skin and some were left blind.

The history of smallpox extends into pre-history, the disease likely emerged in human populations about 10,000 BC. The earliest credible evidence of smallpox is found in the Egyptian mummies of people who died some 3000 years ago. Smallpox has had a major impact on world history, not least because indigenous populations of regions where smallpox was non-native, such as the Americas and Australia, were rapidly decimated and weakened by smallpox during periods of initial foreign contact, which helped pave the way for conquest and colonization. During the 18th century the disease killed an estimated 400,000 Europeans each year, including five reigning monarchs, and was responsible for a third of all blindness. Between 20 and 60% of all those infected—and over 80% of infected children—died from the disease.

Measles vaccine Vaccine used for eradicating Measles, Mumps, and Rubella.

Measles vaccine is a vaccine that prevents measles. After one dose at the age of nine months 85% are immune, while a dose at twelve months results in 95% immunity to measles. Nearly all of those who do not develop immunity after a single dose develop it after a second dose. When rates of vaccination within a population are greater than ~92% outbreaks of measles typically no longer occur; however, they may occur again if rates of vaccination decrease. The vaccine's effectiveness lasts many years. It is unclear if it becomes less effective over time. The vaccine may also protect against measles if given within a couple of days after exposure to measles.

Foot-and-mouth disease infectious and sometimes fatal viral disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals and caused by apthovirus

Foot-and-mouth disease or hoof-and-mouth disease is an infectious and sometimes fatal viral disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals, including domestic and wild bovids. The virus causes a high fever for between two and six days, followed by blisters inside the mouth and on the feet that may rupture and cause lameness.

Social history of viruses

The social history of viruses describes the influence of viruses and viral infections on human history. Epidemics caused by viruses began when human behaviour changed during the Neolithic period, around 12,000 years ago, when humans developed more densely populated agricultural communities. This allowed viruses to spread rapidly and subsequently to become endemic. Viruses of plants and livestock also increased, and as humans became dependent on agriculture and farming, diseases such as potyviruses of potatoes and rinderpest of cattle had devastating consequences.

Variolation or inoculation was the method first used to immunize an individual against smallpox (Variola) with material taken from a patient or a recently variolated individual in the hope that a mild, but protective infection would result. The procedure was most commonly carried out by inserting/rubbing powdered smallpox scabs or fluid from pustules into superficial scratches made in the skin. The patient would develop pustules identical to those caused by naturally occurring smallpox, usually producing a less severe disease than naturally acquired smallpox. Eventually, after about two to four weeks, these symptoms would subside, indicating successful recovery and immunity. The method was first used in China and the Middle East before it was introduced into England and North America in the 1720s in the face of some opposition. The method is no longer used today. It was replaced by smallpox vaccine, a safer alternative. This in turn led to the development of the many vaccines now available against other diseases.