Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Great Day For Humanity

Even better if you are a cow. I had no idea that rinderpest was declared extinct in the wild just last week. A close relative of measles, rinderpest was a nasty virus of cattle and buffalo that was frequently fatal and very contagious. If yours was a culture which depended on its cattle, an outbreak of rinderpest could easily spell famine. It was so dreaded that it was blamed for one of the Biblical plagues of Egypt, but modern research suggests it was another lasting gift to the world from those bringers of joy, the Mongols.

I am not very fond of foreign aid. At best it is a good way to pour money down a hole, at worst it enriches tyrants, feeds corruption, and turns whole populations into welfare leeches. I make an exception for disease control. Those dedicated people who research for years in the lab then trek to the most miserable corners of the earth facing hostility and wretched conditions on a decades long task to wipe out what naysayers call an unstoppable enemy are simply the greatest people in the world. You can be proud of what your tax money has accomplished.

And why treat a disease of animals rather that people? Frankly, it's because no herdsman cares if his cattle are autistic or not. Contrast the polio people, who had a gates of Moscow experience in Nigeria when locals decided the vaccine might keep them from having the full brood of ten children.

Anyway, another scourge is gone. A century ago, church bells would be tolling and cannons would be fired off at the news. This 4th, add it to the list of things to be grateful for.


  1. Those people DO deserve all the respect in the world! They've done yeoman work for years with no thanks.

  2. I would not be surprised if it peeked out again somewhere in Africa though.