Kalro develops vaccine to fight East Coast fever

A research firm has come up with a new vaccine to boost the fight against East Coast fever.

The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) announced the development of 500,000 vaccine doses to be released to farmers before year's end.

In a statement, Kalro’s Veterinary Research Institute (VRI) Director Erick Mungube said the disease could wipe out 80 per cent of infected livestock.

Researchers estimate that more than 100,000 animals in Kenya die annually from the disease while over 28 million cattle in East and Central Africa, mostly among pastoralist communities, are threatened.

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“The whole research project will cost between Sh10m to Sh15m. The disease is endemic in 12 African countries and costs the continent more than Sh25 billion annually,” Dr Mungube said.

He said Kalro was currently working on a second batch of 500,000 doses to meet the growing demand. Farmers will buy the drug at Sh200 when it goes on sale.

“Many of the animals affected by the disease belong to poor pastoralist herders and smallholder farmers for whom the loss of even one cow can be disastrous. This new innovation is geared towards helping the government achieve its agenda on food security,” said Mungube.

It is estimated that over one million cattle in 11 countries succumbed to the disease last year.

The disease, the statement noted, often kills animals within three weeks of infection and is transmitted by the brown ear tick.

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The new development comes barely three months after the International Livestock Research Institute announced that another Kenyan-developed vaccine is to be commercialised and deployed across East Africa to treat the contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP).

The vaccine is expected to solve the challenges faced by livestock farmers in Kajiado, Garissa, Narok, Taita Taveta, Kitui and Tana River, which are usually hardest hit by CBPP.

Researchers from Ilri and Kalro partnered with their colleagues from the University of Saskatchewan’s VIDO-InterVac to develop the vaccine.

KalroVRIVaccineEast Coast Fever