A Tanzanian Maasai man helps administer the infection-and-treatment method of immunizing cattle against East Coast fever in Tanzania. Photo: Stevie Mann/ILRI.
LETHAL LIVESTOCK DISEASE:
A DUAL OFFENSIVE
East Coast fever (ECF) is a devastating tick-transmitted cattle disease caused by a single-celled parasite (Theileira parva). Typically killing animals within just three weeks of infection, ECF occurs in 12 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, costing the lives of more than 1 million cattle annually and the continent annual losses of at least US$300 million.
Now a two-pronged approach is improving control of the deadly disease. The first harnesses the latest advances in biotechnology to develop a next generation vaccine, which will be cheaper, safer and easier to manufacture and administer.
The second scales up use of an existing ‘live’ vaccine that is registered and on sale in three East African countries. This uses an infection- and-treatment method (ITM) to infect animals with specific strains of the parasite, while simultaneously administering a long-acting antibiotic, leading to lifelong immunity. Since 2012, 1.5 million cattle have been treated with the ITM vaccine.
Research in Kenya has revealed higher milk yields and cattle prices, as well as increased household investment in education and health services for the family.