Nelly Bassily | June 7, 2010
East Coast Fever (ECF) kills one cow every 30 seconds. In the 11 countries where the disease is common, the lives of more than 25 million cattle are at risk. It endangers a further 10 million animals in regions such as southern Sudan, where it has been spreading at a rate of more than 30 kilometres a year. ECF devastates indigenous cattle, but is an even greater threat to hybrid breeds. It is devastating to smallholder dairy production. The ECF vaccine could save affected countries around 250 million American dollars a year. ECF is transmitted by the brown ear tick Rhipicephalus appendiculatus. Symptoms include high fever, weight loss and anemia, which can lead to death.
The disease persists in 11 countries – Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
More than 500,000 animals have been vaccinated against ECF in Tanzania since 1998. More than 95% of the animals vaccinated belonged to pastoralists. Calf deaths dropped by 95% as a result. Cases of ECF dropped by 98% in smallholder dairy herds.
Here are links to more information and further notes for broadcasters on ECF:
The Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines, GALVmed, is facilitating the registration of the ECF vaccine. They also negotiate between the many organizations involved at various stages ? from producing the vaccine to delivering it to the animals. GALVmed is funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Here is an FRI script from July 2009 which deals with tick-borne diseases such as East Coast Fever. It refers to using acaricides, and to integrated methods for controlling ticks: “Spray me, I’m itchy”: What moo really means” (Package 88, Script 4, July 2009)
If you broadcast to one of the 11 countries where East Coast Fever is common, you could follow up this story with a call-in show about how farmers are accessing and benefiting from the vaccine. Here are some questions you could consider:
-Have all farmers in the area been able to vaccinate their livestock? How did they get access to the vaccine?
-Is it affordable? Is it affordable for people with only one or two animals?
-Have there been any difficulties getting livestock vaccinated?
-Are farmers happy with the vaccine? Are some unsure about the benefits?