News and knowhow for farmers

Rift Valley Fever now has a working vaccine

A Nairobi-based international research organisation has successfully developed a vaccine against Rift Valley Fever virus (RVF), which promises to save the lives of up to 90 per cent of  young livestock.
Researchers at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) say the ‘One Health’ (ChAdOx1-GnGc) vaccine has shown high efficacy in controlling the spread of the viral disease, which also affects humans. 

Besides saving the young ones cattle, sheep, goats and camels, the vaccine will also prevent massive abortions in mature animals. The disease has lower mortality rates in mature animals. The institute’s vaccine Bioscience programme head Vish Nene said trials have been largely successful after tests on healthy animals.

“This study demonstrated that a single-dose immunization in several species mediated protection against RVF, with no presence of the virus in the blood. As the institution moves to try One Health vaccine in the fields to confirm its efficiency away from the laboratories, Nene said, local and global regulatory authorities will need to address registration requirements for recombinant vaccines. 

A recombinant vaccine is developed by introduction of a DNA encoding into health cells to trigger immune response. A single dose of  immunisation elicits a high-titre neutralising antibody, providing solid protection against FVF virus,” Nene said. 

The virus, which is largely found in Africa, is spread by bites of more than 10 mosquito species. Survivors of the disease sometimes suffer permanent scars like imperiled vision. in case of an outbreak, the spread of the virus is more prominent during  rains because of more of the mosquitoes.

According to the World Health Organinsation, one vaccine has been developed for human use, although it is neither licensed nor commercially available. Field tests, licensing and commercialisation of the vaccine could save the more than 20 million livestock in the country, which are supporting lives of many small and large scale-farmers. Kenya has been using available vaccines, but controlling the virus has remained a challenge since it was reported in Kenya in 1931.

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