Scientists working for the UN say that they have eradicated a virus which can be deadly to cattle. If confirmed, rinderpest would become only the second viral disease - after smallpox - to have been eliminated by humans.
Rinderpest was once prevalent in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said that it will now suspend its efforts to track and eliminate the virus.
The FAO said it was "confident" the virus has been eradicated from those parts of the world where it is prevalent. When the disease arrived in Africa at the end of the nineteenth century between 80% and 90% of cattle and buffalo on the continent were killed.
The eradication of the virus has been described as the biggest achievement in veterinary history and one which will save the lives and livelihoods of millions of the poorest people in the world.
Dr John Anderson from the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) at Pirbright, UK, who has been involved with the eradication programme, said: "For too long people have been involved in controlling diseases and not actually dreaming that it is possible to eradicate a disease from the world. And with Rinderpest we did."