Publication - Advice and guidance

Rinderpest: how to spot and report the disease

Published: 30 Oct 2018

Advice on what to do if you suspect there is an outbreak of this infectious disease.

Published:
30 Oct 2018
Rinderpest: how to spot and report the disease

Rinderpest, also known as cattle plague, is a disease of cattle. Humans are not affected.

Latest situation: the last outbreak in Great Britain was in 1877.

The rinderpest virus was eradicated worldwide in 2011. There is a small chance of an outbreak, for example if disease samples were to escape from a laboratory.

Clinical signs

Signs of rinderpest may include:

  • grain-like bumps in the nostrils and inside the lips and cheeks that often develop into ulcers
  • discharge of watery mucus from eyes and nostrils, occasionally including blood
  • rapid breathing
  • reduced milk production in cows
  • loss of appetite
  • fever

Cattle may be constipated In the early stages of rinderpest.

In the later stages diarrhoea is common, in which case the dung has a foul smell and is often tinged with blood.

Rinderpest spreads quickly within a herd and animals usually die six to ten days after signs appear.

If you suspect signs of any notifiable diseases, you must immediately notify your Scotland: field service local office at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Failure to do so is an offence. 

How rinderpest is spread

Rinderpest is generally spread by direct contact with an infected animal or its body fluids.

The disease can also be spread by contaminated equipment and clothing, and over small distances on the breath of infected animals.

Human health implications

There are no human health implications because the disease is not zoonotic.

How to control the disease

An outbreak will be controlled in line with the contingency framework for exotic notifiable animal diseases.

Legislation

The main domestic legislation on rinderpest is the Cattle Plague Order 1928

The main EU legislation on rinderpest is Council Directive 82/894 and Council Directive 92/119

Biosecurity

Biosecurity is about being aware of the ways disease can spread and taking every practical measure to minimise the risk of disease spreading. The advice details practical things you can do on your farm to help prevent the introduction and spread of rinderpest to and from your animals.

Contact

If you suspect signs of any notifiable diseases, you must immediately notify your Scotland: field service local office at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Failure to do so is an offence.