The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is poised to declare rinderpest, a disease that has caused massive cattle death losses and human famine, eradicated.

The Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme (GREP), launched in 1994, now is hailed as one of the greatest success stories in the history of veterinary medicine. The FAO expects to declare the disease eradicated globally in 2011, making it just the second viral disease, after smallpox, eradicated by humans.

Virtually all areas affected by the disease in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe have achieved disease-free status, with no incidence detected in 10 years or more. A few countries in central Asia and the Arabian Peninsula are on the verge of accreditation as free of the disease, pending some final verifications through the GREP.

Read the progress report from FAO.