Walter Plowright, a pioneer in the field of veterinary medicine who helped to eradicate so-called "cattle plague," rinderpest, died last month at the age of 86. Rinderpest has been considered one of the world's greatest natural disasters. In the late 1800s, rinderpest spread to Africa through India, killing an estimated 90 percent of domesticated cattle. As a result, one third of the population of Ethiopia, and two thirds of the Maasai, died due to starvation. Outbreaks in Africa continued throughout the 1900s.
As the head of the department of pathology at the East African Research Laboratory at Muguga, Plowright and his colleagues began the research that led to the creation of the rinderpest vaccine. They grew a live attenuated vaccine in calf kidney cells -- the first veterinary viral vaccine created in tissue culture. It provided an inexpensive and single dose vaccine that could be used...
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