Last week (31 Jan 2014), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) announced that a consortium supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other partners has been formed to develop a new vaccine against East Coast fever, an often fatal tick-borne disease that affect’s millions of cattle in sub-Saharan Africa.
In this 3-minute film, Henry Kiara, an ILRI veterinary epidemiologist who has spent two decades of his professional life battling this livestock disease, explains why it matters.
‘East Coast fever kills more than a million cattle each year in Africa; the disease particularly threatens genetically improved cattle breeds, which are the most expensive and productive,’ says Kiara.
Outbreaks of East Coast fever, he says, have in some cases wiped out whole herds and destroyed the livelihoods of small-scale livestock farmers who depend on the income they get from sales of milk, meat and young surplus stock.
‘Those animals that survive the disease often suffer long-term effects, such as stunted growth and reduced productivity,’ says Kiara.
East Coast fever is endemic in 11 countries in eastern, central and southern Africa and was recently reported in the Comoros Islands.
Kiara says the disease poses great risk to animals in countries currently free of the disease, such as Ethiopia and the Central African Republic.
‘The current vaccine’, Kiara says, ‘is helping farmers in endemic areas protect their animals. And their livelihoods.’
Read an ILRI news story on the launch of the new consortium
Watch a 5-minute film on the new initiative to develop a new-generation vaccine against East Coast fever.