The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Scientists in East Coast Fever Vaccine Breakthrough

A vaccine for the East Coast Fever has been successfully developed by veterinary scientists. Livestock minister Mohammed Kuti said a team of regional and international scientists came up with the vaccine.

The fatal disease affects livestock, especially cows in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa. Kuti said the breakthrough is a result of a series of trials and tests in different countries which were launched in the in 2009.

"The vaccine will enable the region to save more than $168 million (Sh1.32 billion) used to control the disease that has been claiming more than one million animals every year in the region," said Kuti.

The minister's remarks were read in a speech by Dr Peter Maina, the director of veterinary services, at Kitale's ADC Katuke farm during the launch of the vaccine.

The ECF vaccine uses an "infection-and-treatment method", where the animals are infected with parasites that cause the disease, while being treated with antibiotics to stop spread of the disease.

The director of veterinary services said the mode of operation of the vaccine shall make its distribution to be done through a limited number of agents who will be selected through a criterion that assures quality, safety and its effectiveness.

"The same reason makes the use of the vaccine to be restricted to parts of the country where the disease is already endemic to avoid introduction of the parasites in ECF- free area," he said.

The vaccine will save farmers from high expenses incurred in controlling the disease through caricides and treatment. The animal will now be vaccinated once in its lifetime.

"The ECF vaccine is expected to increase profitability of the dairy enterprise by lowering control and treatment costs as well as increase milk production," said the Minister.

The ECF disease which majorly affects exotic animals was first reported in Kenya in 1904 in cattle that had been moved from Tanzania.

Development of the vaccine involved the collaborative efforts of the Kenya Research Institute (KARI), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the Alliance for Livestock and Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) and the Government of Kenya.

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