Central Africa / Disease Control / East Africa / ECF / Kenya / Southern Africa / Tanzania / Vaccines

ILRI mass-produced vaccine to protect livestock of poor herders against cancer-like disease

Maasai woman holds her calf immunized against East Coast fever

Field trials of a new vaccine batch for East Coast fever produced at the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) are nearing completion; a Maasai woman from northern Tanzania holds her calf that has just been immunized against East Coast fever (picture credit: ILRI/Mann).

‘Thousands of pastoralists could be saved from destitution thanks to a much-needed vaccine that is being mass-produced to protect cattle against a deadly parasite.

‘Field trials of a new vaccine batch for East Coast fever produced at the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) are nearing completion.

‘The first bulk batch of the vaccine, produced by ILRI 15 years ago, has protected one million animals, improving the living standards of livestock keepers.

‘East Coast fever is a tick-transmitted disease that kills thousands of cows every year in Africa.

‘Calves are particularly susceptible to the disease. In herds kept by the pastoral Maasai people, for example, the disease kills from 20 to 50 per cent of all unvaccinated calves.

‘An experimental vaccine against the fever was first developed more than 30 years ago. This has been followed by further testing with major funding from the UK Department for International Development (DfID) and to facilitate the mass production of the vaccine. East Coast Fever puts the lives of more than 25 million cattle at risk. In 11 African countries, the disease is now endemic and endangers a further 10 million animals in new regions such as Southern Sudan, where the disease has been spreading fast. The vaccine could save the 11 affected countries at least £175 million (Sh23.9 Billion) a year.

‘The immunisation procedure—called “infection-and-treatment” because the animals are infected with whole parasites while being treated with antibiotics to stop development of disease—has proved highly effective. But initial stocks produced in the 1990s recently ran low.

‘The infection-and-treatment immunisation method against East Coast fever was developed by research conducted over three decades by the East African Community, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Kari) at Muguga, and ILRI.

‘In addition to producing the infection-and-treatment vaccine, ILRI is also working to develop a genetically engineered next-generation vaccine. ILRI, at the request of the Africa Union/Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources and chief veterinary officers in affected countries, produced one million doses of vaccine to fill this gap.

‘However, for the longer term it is critical that sustainable commercial systems for vaccine production, distribution and delivery are established.

‘With Sh2.2 billion provided by DFID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the charity GALVmed is fostering innovative commercial means to do just this, beginning with the registration and commercial distribution and delivery of this new batch of the vaccine. . . .’

Read the whole article at the Standard (Kenya): Mass production of vaccine to livestock, 16 April 2011.

2 thoughts on “ILRI mass-produced vaccine to protect livestock of poor herders against cancer-like disease

  1. Does ILRI work with other groups to support & assist Pastoralists.

    I am involved with a couple of small groups from Oklahoma, who have been working in the Morogoro area for the last few years. We are assisting the women to obtain dairy goats, but we would like to provide more support empowering this Maasai village for long term sustainability.

    Any information would help us provide effective assistance for the Pastoralist.

    Please feel free to contact me anytime if you have questions regarding our effort.
    Thank you.

    Professionally,
    John Chancey, DVM
    3700 Windover Dr
    Edmond, OK 73013
    (405) 229-3261
    jchancey@greenwik.org

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