This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
year a million cows in Africa die from East Coast fever. The disease is spread by
tick bites. Young cows are most at risk; they can die within days. Farmers and
herders can lose up to half or more of their calves to East Coast fever.
disease is widespread in eleven countries. And experts say it now threatens ten
million more animals in new areas including southern Sudan.
first developed an experimental vaccine against East Coast fever thirty years
ago. The vaccine works by a process called "infection and treatment." The animals are infected with whole
parasites and treated with antibiotics at the same time. This keeps the disease from developing.
East Coast fever has meant a better life in areas that have gotten the vaccine.
For example, the vaccine has been available to a group of Maasai herders in
northern Tanzania for about seven years. They used to lose three-fourths of
their newborn calves each year. Now, most survive. As a result, many people
have extra cattle to sell, and use the money to pay for school for their
making the vaccine more widely available -- especially in rural areas -- has
been difficult. Farmers have been using supplies produced in the nineteen
nineties. Recently there was a shortage. The International Livestock Research
Institute made one million doses at the request of African officials. But that supply
is only temporary. Another problem is that the vaccine must be kept extremely
nonprofit Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines is trying to expand
production and lower the cost. GALVmed spokesman Hameed Nuru says mobile phones
have helped lower some barriers to distribution.
NURU: "Now, with the advent of cellular technology, most of the people we
do reach, such as the Maasai pastoralists, they all have cell phones. And they
now call the delivery agent who can now come and meet them at a particular
place and do the vaccination for them."
is not cheap. But Hameed Nuru says the herders get together to sell a bull and
use the money to vaccinate all their animals. They understand that they are
getting value for their money: A cow is worth nearly twice as much if it is
is to have local people develop businesses supplying the vaccine.
NURU: "People are now seeing that they can actually make a business from
supplying this vaccine and getting out to the very rural areas where there is a
market for this."
efforts are supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the British
that's the VOA Special English Agriculture report, written by Jerilyn Watson
with additional reporting by Steve Baragona. I'm Bob Doughty.