A study by the International Livestock Research Institute ILRI is advocating for zero grazing system to contain tick borne diseases as it emerged that free range systems exposes livestock to ticks-increasing the chances of contracting diseases.
“Animals subjected to zero-grazing systems had 80 per cent lower chance of contracting ECF than in farms where there is no tick control,” noted the study. Researchers put 548 zebu cattle under surveillance and assessed their infection and clinical status every five weeks.
The disease is caused by protozoa known as Theleria parva, East Coast Fever is transmitted by the brown ear tick, Rhipicephalus appendiculatus. According to ILRI, one cow every 30 seconds with the lives of more than 25mn cattle at risk in the 11 countries of sub-Saharan Africa where the disease is now endemic.
Last year researchers from ILRI and the Kenya Agricultural Research institute (KARI) launched a vaccine to control East Coast fever. Kenya’s Directorate of Veterinary Services conducted the trials of the ITM vaccines giving it a clean record on safety and effectiveness.
“East Coast fever continues to cause major economic and social losses to families in eastern, central and southern Africa. Of the 46mn cattle in this region almost half are at risk from this disease,” observed Phil Toye and Henry Kiara, two ILRI scientists that have been involved in the vaccine research that has spanned more than four decades.