Africa / Animal Diseases / Australia / BecA / Biotechnology / Cattle / CBPP / Disease Control / Goats / ILRI / PPR / Sheep / Small Ruminants / Vaccines

Australia steps up support for research in Africa to reduce the continent’s heavy livestock disease burden

Merkel visits ILRI Nairobi: Lab tour

ILRI scientist Joerg Jores (right) tells German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who visited the ILRI-BecA labs in July 2011, about his livestock disease research (photo credit: ILRI/Njoroge).

‘Owning large livestock is like money in the bank for African farmers, but major diseases significantly threaten their future.

‘Among these are [peste des petits ruminants], a viral disease affecting sheep and goats, and [contagious bovine pleuropneumonia], adversely impacting on cattle, which are spreading rapidly in the developing world.

‘With three years of funding from AusAID and with science support from Australia’s CSIRO, research scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya, are working on improved diagnostics and more effective vaccines for their control.

‘Jeffrey Mariner heads the development of a thermo-stable vaccine for PPR (known as small ruminant plague). The disease causes diarrhoea in sheep and goats and up to 50 per cent mortality in affected flocks.

‘He said a vaccine was in production which offered lifelong immunity but required refrigeration, giving it limited use in remote Africa.

‘Developing a vaccine effective at room temperature would significantly reduce the cost of vaccination and make it more accessible to pastoral areas of Africa, where many sheep and goats were run. . . .

‘A team of researchers is also investigating more effective control methods for [CBPP] which is estimated to cost 44 million Euros a year in the 12 African countries which represent the vast majority of outbreaks.

‘The flu-like disease was eradicated from most Western countries, including Australia, in the early 1970s, but it is still a large killer of cattle across central Africa and south into Tanzania and Zambia.

‘A live vaccine is available for [CBPP] but delivers only short time immunity with annual revaccinations required. It also needs refrigeration during transport and storage.

‘Project leaders Jan Naessens and  [Joerg] Jores said other continents had eradicated [CBPP] through test and slaughter programs, but Africa could not afford to take this approach due to food security issues. . . .’

Read the whole article in Stock JournalOz research tackles disease spread, 26 Dec 2011.

ILRI’s PPR and CBPP research projects both come under an Australian Government African Food Security initiative supported by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) through  the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency, and in partnership with BecA, Biosciences eastern and central Africa Hub (BecA), an initiative hosted and managed by ILRI in Nairobi, Kenya.

2 thoughts on “Australia steps up support for research in Africa to reduce the continent’s heavy livestock disease burden

  1. Hi Jeffery and colleagues!
    The development of PPR thermostable vaccine will be highly welcomed by the Sudanese sheep owners and exporters. The disease has currently reached alarming levels causing heavy mortalities. If not controlled, it is going to be devastating to Sudan sheep exports. Sudan curently produces a live vaccine which requires cold chain for transport to remote rural areas of the country where the majority of the sheep population is kept. This mode of transportation is not always feasible. The new vaccine, like its predecessor, the thermostable rinderpest vaccine, will be of great value to the sheep owners/exporters.
    I hope that the costs will be reasonable and affordable to rural sheep owners!

  2. Hi,
    CBPP and CCPP are two other notorious and endemic diseases of cattle and goats respectively particularly in Sudan. I remember FAO had supported a project to develop better vaccines for the two diseases in Sudan. Please update us on the situation and your plans with FAO and/or Australia to look into this important issue. I do not need to remind you of the imporatance of goats for smallholders and the rural poor in Africa.

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