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Matt Ridley is the author of provocative books on evolution, genetics and society. His books have sold over a million copies, been translated into thirty languages, and have won several awards.

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A second disease goes extinct

Rinderpest joins smallpox in oblivion

 

I missed this news last month. For the second time in history, human beings have eradicated a disease altogether. This time it is rinderpest, which people cannot get, only cattle so it's not such big news as smallpox or (soon?) polio.

It's still good news.

 

Dr Peter Roeder, who was Secretary of the Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme from 2000 to 2007, commented: "Once a dream, rinderpest eradication is now a reality. Not only does this magnificent achievement help to protect the livelihoods of many millions of livestock-dependent farmers but, because it removes a serious constraint to livestock trade, it has a major positive impact on many countries' economies. If we can truly learn the lessons from rinderpest eradication there is no reason why we couldn't see other diseases brought to global extinction with similar pro-poor and economic impact."