A world body on animal health has declared India as free from the dreaded rinderpest infection - an acute viral disease affecting the intestinal tract of cattle .
'This recognition of India as free from rinderpest infection is a great achievement. It is the first animal disease to be officially recognised by Office Internationale des Epizooties (OIE) as having been eradicated from India,' agriculture ministry said in a statement Friday.
'This freedom from one of the deadliest infection of bovine will not only boost livestock production but also increase potential for export of livestock or its products.'
Rinderpest, the premier scourge of bovines, has been known to occur in India for decades. In early 1950s, about 400,000 cases of rinderpest would occur every year with only 50 percent survival rate.
Rinderpest also occurred in sheep, goats and pigs, wild buffaloes and blue bulls.
In India, a revised National Project on Rinderpest Eradication (NPRE) was launched with assistance from European Union in 1990. The incidence got reduced to 1-2 seizures per million bovine population by 1995.
The OIE declares a country free from rinderpest at least three years after the country has declared itself provisionally free from the disease and if it meets the set pathway or stages of clearances, which include provisional freedom from disease, freedom from disease and freedom from infection.
A programme of rinderpest 'serosurveillance' aimed at achieving the third and final stage of 'freedom from rinderpest infection' was executed in three phases over three years - with phase I from November 2001 to October 2002, Phase II from November 2002 to October 2003 and Phase III from November 2003 to October 2004.
The Indian government submitted the dossier for the consideration of the OIE for 'freedom from rinderpest infection' status on Nov 1, 2004 and to Director General of OIE on Aug 22, 2005.
(Source: IANS News)