What you need to know:
- Vaccines are crucial in livestock keeping because if you manage to eradicate diseases, then you can access premium markets.
- Vaccine formulation begins with trials in the laboratory on animals such as mice and guinea pigs before researchers go to target animals like cattle, goat or sheep in the second trial phase.
- What farmers do not know is that vaccinating during an outbreak is wrong since you can also become a mechanical carrier of the same disease as you go to clean the animal houses.
Kenya has began local production of livestock vaccines for pasteurella, enterotoxaemia and Rift Valley Fever, three stubborn diseases.
Leopard Obi spoke to Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Institute (Kevevapi) CEO Jane Wachira, whose institution is producing the vaccines, about what this major milestone means for cattle keepers
Why vaccines against the three diseases?
Vaccines are crucial in livestock keeping because if you manage to eradicate diseases, then you can access premium markets.
These diseases are a big concern, and they are not easily diagnosed, therefore, farmers lose large herds without even knowing.
In 2016, we studied challenges affecting small stock that include sheep and goats, especially in arid and semi-arid areas and the diseases stood out. We have 30 million small animals in the region, which makes it an important sub-sector.
Unfortunately, these animals die of pasteurella (pulpy kidney), enterotoxaemia (Haemorrhagic septicaemia) and Rift Valley Fever mainly because they are not vaccinated.
But the three are not the only deadly livestock diseases?
We have partnered with Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation to develop a vaccine for Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBP), which is pneumonia for cattle. We started the project in 2013 and we are currently testing it in the field.
We are also working on Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) (goat plague) vaccine, which will not need refrigeration.
We want to ensure that when this vaccine goes into semi-arid areas where temperatures are very high and the infrastructure is poor, it will still be efficacious.
As a farmer, can I purchase the vaccines for the three diseases from an agrovet?
Pasteurella and enterotoxaemia vaccines were released in the market about a year ago. When we got the first batch, we sensitised farmers and counties about the products.
A number of them, including those keeping camels, purchased them. Pasteurella is usually hard on camels.
However, for us to officially roll out the vaccines, we have to register them with veterinary medicines directorate.
We are in the process of compiling the dossiers of the three vaccines before we officially launch.
The world is currently striving to develop a vaccine for Covid-19, which we are told is months away. Does development of animal vaccines take such a long time also?
Yes, sometimes it takes 10-20 years to get a vaccine out. Most of the vaccines we produce here are home-grown, like the poultry vaccines Ngong and Isiolo strains.
Once they are isolated, they are purified before being adapted in the laboratory where they can grow into cell lines. They are, thereafter, tamed so that they do not cause diseases in animals.
Alternatively, those that are not tamed are killed using a chemical and they can be used to inoculate animals to boost their immune system against infections.
Vaccine formulation begins with trials in the laboratory on animals such as mice and guinea pigs before researchers go to target animals like cattle, goat or sheep in the second trial phase.
If we find out that they are able to resist the disease, then we do a controlled roll out. Currently, Kevavapi produces about 13 vaccines against major livestock diseases.
Are livestock farmers taking up vaccines?
Vaccines are for disease prevention and not for treatment. We mostly get requests for vaccines when there is an outbreak of a disease.
What farmers do not know is that vaccinating during an outbreak is wrong since you can also become a mechanical carrier of the same disease as you go to clean the animal houses.
Farmers must have a vaccination programme that enables them vaccinate before an outbreak. For foot and mouth, they need to vaccinate every three months.