During its assembly this week in Paris, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) launched a digital campaign to discourage storage of the rinderpest virus.

Following a decades-long global fight against rinderpest, a contagious and highly destructive viral disease affecting several species of wild and domestic cloven-hoofed animals, the world was declared to be officially free of the disease during the OIE General Session in May 2011. Rinderpest, also called cattle plague, is only the second infectious disease, after smallpox, to have been globally eradicated through human efforts.

According to the OIE, the world remains vulnerable to rinderpest in the post-eradication era due to virus stocks, vaccines and biologic samples stored in over 40 laboratories world-wide. Until these potential sources of rinderpest virus are either safely destroyed or transferred to a minimum number of high containment facilities, approved by OIE and the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the world remains at risk of a reoccurrence through an accidental release or a deliberate terrorist act.

As part of the campaign, OIE has released a video calling on all member countries to respect their commitment to OIE and either destroy the virus, or safely store it in an approved facility.

The video, available in English, French, Spanish and Russian, highlights the risks for virus escape, as a result of negligence, an accident or a deliberate act, and stresses that storing the rinderpest virus comes with a great burden of responsibility. It calls on countries and laboratories to identify their stocks of the virus and provides a checklist of actions to take to ensure rinderpest does not resurface.

For more information, read “10 reasons not to store rinderpest virus” from OIE.

View the video here.