Kenya edges closer to eradicating East Coast Fever

The war on the deadly East Coast Fever is close to be won after Kenya recently launched a new highly improved vaccine to curb the disease responsible for over 1.1 million cattle deaths yearly. The vaccine will save the country over Sh168 million annually.

This has been a long decade for scientists and the research community in the country. For four decades, the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and its predecessor the International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases, ILRAD have been  conducting extensive laboratory and field research on the lethal tick-borne cattle disease.

According to industry players, the disease is an expensive one to cure requiring a farmer Sh6,000 to treat an adult animal.
“The vaccine is now a boost on agricultural production through marketing, value-addition and agri-business will improve the livelihoods of Kenyans and create wealth,” read the Livestock Minister's speech during the launch of the vaccine.
"This is a dangerous disease if no form of control measures is taken it would kill close to 100 percent of the exotic dairy cattle. It is a major killer in herds kept by Kenya's pastoralists where it kills 20-50 percent of all calves," said the minister.

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.

An animal suffering from the disease limited has high fever and enlarged lymph nodes near the tick bite and die in less than a week if intervention is not sought.

Written by Sasha Watwiri for African Laughter