Kenya’s Livestock researchers are to create a vaccine against the East Coast Fever disease at a cost of Sh15 million.
Erick Mugube, director, Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organisation-Veterinary Research Institute in Muguga said this is the second batch of half a million doses of the ECF vaccines that are being produced since 1995 against the disease that has a 100 per cent mortality rate in cattle.
“The vaccine that is currently being used was produced in 1995 and over half a million doses have been sold. The institute is producing another batch of half million doses again due to a high demand. This will cost between Sh10 to Sh15 million,” said Mugabe.
He explained that ECF is caused by a single parasite, theileria parva, and transmitted is transmitted by brown ear tick. The disease often kills a cow every 30 seconds and it is a threat to more than 25 million cattle in Africa.
The disease is mainly found in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and has had an adverse impact on Africa economies with losses exceeded Sh30 billion annually.
“If this disease is not controlled through treatment using drugs or vaccination, death may occur within one month of being bitten by a tick and dairy farmers are most affected by ECF in the country,” he said.
Symptoms of the disease include loss of appetite for the animals, swelling of lymph nodes and for the dairy animals production cuts by the huge margin.
Moses Alu, a research scientist at Kalro said they are producing another 120,000 to 150, 000 doses to help farmers fight the disease.
“It will take us about two years to produce the vaccine which is only sustainable under cold conditions, stored in liquid nitrogen,” he said.
Alu said that the dose costs Sh200 and to ensure the vaccine is effective, the institute retrains service providers who administer the vaccine.
“The occurrence of ticks in East Central and South Africa is one of the major limiting factors of livestock productivity. The fatality rate for untreated ECF which is a disease of cattle and buffalo can be as high as 100 per cent in cattle,” he said.