East Coast fever is a major livestock disease in eastern, central and southern Africa. Transmitted by ticks infected with a protozoan parasite (Theileria parva), it kills over 1 million animals each year, damaging livelihoods of poor livestock keepers and farmers in 11 countries. Researchers from organizations such as the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) are working to find innovative ways to protect African livestock against this and other ‘orphan’ livestock diseases.
One of the successes in the efforts to fight East Coast fever has been the development of a ‘live’ vaccine, which includes the whole parasite, weakened so as not to cause severe disease thatcame after over 30 years of research by organizations including ILRI and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute. This long-term research was funded by UK Department for International Development and other donors of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. The vaccine is now registered in Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania and its widespread use is being promoted so that it can give protection to the animals on which many poor people in these countries depend.
In the following audio interview, John McDermott, Deputy Director General-Research at ILRI, speaks in Nairobi of the need ‘to develop networks that can distribute and deliver’ the vaccine to those who need it, which should encourage its widespread use. This interview, produced in July 2010 by AFGAX Radio (http://www.agfax.net), also shares the expectations of a veterinarian from Kenya and a farmer from Tanzania of how the vaccine will help livestock keepers.
To listen to the interview, visit: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=353
More information about the East Coast fever live vaccine is available in the following article.