A less deadly parasite could offer cost-effective protection against East Coast Fever (ECF) in cattle, while global efforts are mounting to eradicate Peste des petits ruminants (PPR).
Researchers have discovered a new and potentially more effective way of protecting livestock against ECF, a disease that kills over 1 million cattle in Africa every year. Scientists from the University of Edinburgh, UK, and the International Livestock Research Institute, have found that infecting healthy cattle with a Theileria mutans parasite - a close relative of the Theileria parva parasite that causes ECF - protects the majority of animals from the disease, while itself causing only a very mild infection. Out of 500 calves infected during the trials in western Kenya, an impressive eight out of nine were protected against ECF. Current vaccination practices for ECF typically involve infecting an animal and then treating it with antibiotics, to help the animal acquire immunity.
Work is also being scaled up to combat PPR ruminants, a highly contagious viral disease affecting sheep and goats. Earlier in 2015, Côte d’Ivoire hosted the first global conference for the eradication of the disease, in order to endorse a global eradication strategy.
Maina Waruru and Patrice Kouakou
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