Kenyan East Coast Fever vaccine now gets approval


Since 2012, 1.3 million heads of cattle have been vaccinated. FILE PHOTO | NMG

A Kenyan developed vaccine is to be commercialised and deployed across East Africa for the treatment of East Coast Fever.

In a statement, International Livestock Research Institute (Ilri) said it was working closely with the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) to fast-track adoption of proven technologies and vaccines where livestock vaccinators will be trained ahead of upcoming vaccination exercise of one million heads of cattle.

Henry Kiara, an epidemiologist, said a pilot conducted since 2012 where 1.3 million heads of cattle were vaccinated shows the vaccine that applies an ‘infection and treatment method’ had proved its resilience against ECF.

“The vaccine employs the ‘infection and treatment method’ that involves infecting cattle with a ‘cocktail’ of live parasites and simultaneously treating them with a long-lasting antibiotic. This ‘live vaccine’ method generates life-long immunity to East Coast fever,” said the statement.

Ilri said the research involving 250 cattle-keepers in Kenya, vaccine distributors and veterinary staff saw a significant drop in cattle deaths from 50 per cent of the affected herds to less than 10 per cent.

“In Tanzania, 167 small-scale farmers who vaccinated their animals against ECF reduced expenditure on acaricide spraying by 75 per cent.”

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They reported increased milk yields, reduced water usage, increased manure with which to fertilise croplands and better traction for pulling ploughs and carts from healthier animals,” it says.

Ilri and its partner researchers said it will be a two-pronged approach where dosage per cow will be reduced from the current 40 to 10. “The second approach harnesses the latest advances in biotechnology to develop proof-of-concept for a next-generation vaccine based on parasite molecules rather than live parasites, which should make it safer, cheaper and easier to manufacture and administer,” said the statement.

According to the Kenya Dairy Board, last year 535.7 litres of milk were sold to 28 processors, a 5.2 per cent growth from 2016’s production of 648.2 million litres.

The bulk milk supplies were sourced from smallholder farmers selling their produce via self-help groups and dairy co-operative societies as well as via middlemen.