Plague of Disease on the Cattle: Virus Rinderpest?

Welcome back to Time in the Word. We are halfway through our Ten Plagues. The plague of disease on the cattle had many effects. Unfortunately, the animals took the brunt of this plague. It was thought to be the virus rinderpest.

Rinderpest is a virus that belongs to the measles and canine distemper viruses- the genus Morbillivirus. Humans are unaffected by rinderpest, but rinderpest made a zoological jump through measles, which made its debut in the 11th century.


This virus, rinderpest, needs a host in order to do its replication. Rinderpest binds to receptors on the host cell membrane, fuses with the cell, and empties its genetic information into the cytoplasm. Once this genetic information was exchanged, the virus begins to make new virions, spreading throughout the body.

This virus starts its attack in the lymphatic and respiratory systems and is present in all body fluids making it easily transmissible. This virus’s incubation period is short, with a rapid progression of symptoms and infection. Here is a list of symptoms:

  • ulcerating sores in the soft tissues of the affected animal
  • extreme fevers
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhea
  • weakness
  • death around ten days

Rinderpest is to blame for the 19th-century famine in Africa. The virus decimated 90% of Southern and East Africa’s cattle and in turn, caused a famine. This famine killed one-third of Ethiopia’s population, with death counts equaling the Black Plague. In addition, the virus made its way into the local wildlife, destroying those populations with extreme precision. The long-lasting effects of this rinderpest outbreak in Africa have extended into the 21st century.

As recently as June 2019, the Pirbright Institute in Surrey had the most extensive laboratory stock of rinderpest in the world. Fortunately, this large stock was supposedly destroyed.

Plague Number Five: Disease

Scripture Exodus 9:1-7– NIV

Moses and Aaron visit again with Pharaoh. Moses tells Pharaoh that if he continues to hold back the Israelites from leaving and refuses to let them go and worship in the wilderness, God will bring a terrible disease to the cattle of Egypt. God will make a clear distinction between the Israelite cattle and Egyptian cattle, with no sickness among the Israelites cattle. God gave Pharaoh one day before the plague of disease began.

True, to God’s word, the Egyptian cattle fell ill and died, while the Israelites cattle remained healthy. Pharaoh even went to see if it was true. To Pharaoh’s amazement, the Israelite cattle were alive and healthy. Yet, Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to let the people go.

The death of everything from cows, camels, horses, sheep, and goats took a huge toll on the Egyptian people. Hitting food sources as well as the economy.

Egyptian god or goddesses the plague confronted– Barnes Bible Chart pdf

  • Moses and Aaron continued to be obedient to God. They did and said as instructed.
  • Pharaoh’s magicians didn’t even try to duplicate this plague.
  • Affected Egyptian property.
  • All Egyptian livestock died.
  • God very distinctly kept the plague to the Egyptian people. The Israelites would not be affected.
  • I found it interesting that God used the death of the animals as a warning- it affected their economy, as well as their food supply. Think of how devastating the death of adult cattle would be. No babies to rear up. They were left with nothing. Long-lasting effects.
  • Ipuwer Papyrus mentions this plague.
  • Are you noticing how patient God has been with Pharaoh? Every plague seems to have a 24-hour think about before you respond.
  • Has God ever given you 24 hours to think about a possible consequence of action?

Thank you for joining me here today in Time in the Word. See you back here next week when we tackle the plague of boils. If you have ever had a boil, you know how painful they are. Imagine your body full of boils?!


About Michele Bruxvoort

Michele Bruxvoort is sure to draw you in with her delightful sense of humor and love for living life.   She enjoys reading, repurposing,  as well as remodeling the family home with her husband. Drawing from her life experience as wife, mom, and follower of Jesus, Michele brings you a very honest and real perspective on life.  When you don't find her writing, you can find her mowing lawns, stocking shelves, taking care of her grandbaby and tackling her latest life adventure. Wisconsin native and empty-nester, she now makes her home with her husband of 27 years in the South West Prairie plains of Minnesota.

View all posts by Michele Bruxvoort

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