Uganda: Makerere, Us Scientists Researchers Team Up to Develop Swine Fever Vaccine

Kampala — Researchers are putting their heads together to develop a vaccine that will eliminate the deadly African Swine Fever.

African swine fever is a contagious disease that spreads rapidly among pigs.

It is passed on to the pigs in a vicious cycle between ticks and wild pigs and direct contact with infected pigs.

The researchers are carrying out the work under the Regional Mediated Partnership for Enhancing Livelihood and Health (RUMPELH).

In the past few months, African swine fever wiped out thousands of pigs in Uganda and the latest cases were recorded in Masaka District where farmers lost over 700 pigs early this year.

Currently, the African Swine fever has no cure.

RUMPELH is hosted at Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine Animal Resources and Biosecurity (COVAB).

According to Dr Margaret Khaisa, a Ugandan senior researcher and lecturer at Mississippi State University, African swine fever has hampered the production system of food on the African continent and negatively impacted on the global economy, food security and trade.

"With other fellow researchers in the US, we are making progress in inventing a vaccine for Africa Swine fever and very soon, we will be able to unveil what we have so far achieved," she said during an interview on Tuesday

Currently, she says, they are partnering with researchers from Ministry of Agriculture Animal Resources and Fisheries (MAAIF) to test the vaccine before it is taken back to the US for final testing and confirmation.

In addition to African Swine Fever, Dr Khaisa says Mississippi State University together with other partners are also developing anti-tick vaccine as well as prototypes for control of tsetse flies in cattle in Uganda, which projects are led by Prof. Simo Kahwa and Prof Enock Matovu, respectively.

Prof. John David Kabasa, the principal COVAB , who also the principal investigator of RUMPELH, says the project formed with support from USAID Higher Education for Development grant which brought together American and African higher institutions of learning including Mississippi State University, Washington State University, Columbus State University, North Dakota, Makerere University, Rwanda,Nairobi and Sokoine of Tanzania and others.

Prof. Kabasa says that as a result of the investment, the Japan International Agency joined them to complement the efforts by establishing a joint National Diagnostic Laboratory at CoVAB to strengthen the collaboration between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Makerere University in public veterinary delivery.

Piggery is a major farming activity in Uganda and one of the main sources of economic livelihood for many households involved in the sector.

Masaka is the leading producer of pigs in Uganda followed by Kamuli District.

For an indigenous pig breed, the least one can earn is Shs120, 000 while for a cross breed, it can be Shs300,000 in less than six months.

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