Animal Health


Village women and livestock in Niger (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

Governments are currently negotiating a historic global pandemic treaty to protect us from future pandemics. The special session of the 2021 World Health Assembly agreed that the new accord will focus on early detection and prevention of pandemics, as well as the One Health approach which recognises the interconnectedness of human, animal and environment health.

On Tuesday 28 June 2022, the Action for Animal Health coalition will host an online event during which experts from civil society and multilateral organizations will discuss why robust animal health systems are critical to putting One Health into practice to reduce the risk of zoonoses spilling over to people.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is a member of the Action for Animal Health coalition which calls on governments, donors and international agencies to invest in animal health systems through five pillars of action:

  • Support community engagement and equitable access to animal health services
  • Increase the numbers and improve the skills of the animal health workforce
  • Close the veterinary medicines and vaccines gap
  • Improve animal disease surveillance
  • Enhance collaboration for One Health

Join the online event to hear more about why stronger animal health systems are key to preventing another pandemic. 

Below are details of the event and how to register.

Date: Tuesday 28 June 2022

Time: 1200–1315 hours (BST, GMT+1)

Location: Online (a Zoom link will be sent to registered participants the day before the event)

Registration link: https://takeaction.thebrooke.org/page/103248/event/2 

Speakers

  • Klara Saville, head of animal health, welfare and community development, Brooke/Action for Animal Health
  • Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, founder and chief executive officer of Conservation Through Public Health
  • Mariana Vale, Ecology Department, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Preventing Pandemics at the Source, and member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • Chadia Wannous, One Health global coordinator, World Organisation for Animal Health
  • Angélique Angot, laboratory specialist, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Moderator: Patricia Amira

Photo credit: Village women and livestock in Niger (ILRI/Stevie Mann)

Delia Grace

We congratulate Delia Grace, professor of food safety systems at the Natural Resources Institute and joint appointed scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), on winning the 2022 Arrell Global Food Innovation Award in the research innovation category.

Delia Grace is a renowned scientist with unique and transformative impacts on the safety of food systems and public health in developing countries.

As a trained veterinarian and epidemiologist, she brings a special expertise on the interconnectedness of animal health, human health and ecohealth to her work. A focus of her work is improving food safety in informal markets in developing countries.

‘I’m honoured to be named the recipient of the Arrell Global Food Innovation Award in the area of research impact,’ she said.

‘There is a very critical relationship between animal, human and environment health and I hope we can continue to research and find ways to help improve food safety and thus the health of humans and animals. While there is still a lot to learn, by listening and engaging, thinking and trying, we can achieve much more.’

‘Congratulations to Delia Grace Randolph for being awarded with the Arrell Global Food Innovation Award for excellence in research,’ said Evan Fraser, Arrell Food Institute Director.

‘Food safety is critical to food systems, and Delia Grace Randolph’s research in this field has clearly had a positive impact on many people.’

The mission of the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph is to bring people together to conduct research, train the next generation of food leaders and shape social, industrial and governmental decisions, always ensuring food is the central priority.

The Arrell Global Food Innovation Awards are adjudicated by a group of internationally recognized scientists and community activists. This year’s adjudicators are Nadia Theodore, senior vice president, global government and industry relations, Maple Leaf Foods; Florence Lasbennes, managing director, 4SD; Lawrence Haddad, executive director, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition; and Adrienne Xavier, acting director of the Indigenous Studies Program, McMaster University.

Browse Delia Grace’s research publications here

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need to strengthen national surveillance systems to protect a globally connected world.

In low-income and middle-income countries, zoonotic disease surveillance has advanced considerably in the past two decades. However, surveillance efforts often prioritize urban and adjacent rural communities.

Communities in remote rural areas have had far less support despite having routine exposure to zoonotic diseases due to frequent contact with domestic and wild animals, and restricted access to health care. Limited disease surveillance in remote rural areas is a crucial gap in global health security.

Although this point has been made in the past, practical solutions on how to implement surveillance efficiently in these resource-limited and logistically challenging settings have yet to be discussed.

A new paper in Lancet Global Health (Apr 2022) highlights why investing in disease surveillance in remote rural areas of low-income and middle-income countries will benefit the global community and review current approaches.

Using semi-arid regions in Kenya as a case study, the authors’ viewpoint provides a practical approach by which surveillance in remote rural areas can be strengthened and integrated into existing systems.

The viewpoint represents a transition from simply highlighting the need for a more holistic approach to disease surveillance to a solid plan for how this outcome might be achieved.

Citation

Worsley-Tonks, K.E.L., Bender, J.B., Deem, S.L., Ferguson, A.W., Fèvre, E.M., Martins, D.J., Muloi, D.M., Murray, S., Mutinda, M., Ogada, D., Omondi, G.P., Prasad, S., Wild, H., Zimmerman, D.M. and Hassell, J.M. 2022. Strengthening global health security by improving disease surveillance in remote rural areas of low-income and middle-income countries. Lancet Global Health 10(4): e579–e584.

Photo credit: Camels drinking at a water pan in Wajir county in Kenya (ILRI/George Wamwere-Njoroge)

International Open Access Week is an annual scholarly communication event that is marked globally during the last full week of October to raise awareness about open access publishing of research and scholarly outputs to enable their universal online accessibility. The theme of Open Access Week 2021 (25 to 31 Oct) is ‘It matters how we open knowledge: Building structural equity’.

In the field of academic and research publishing, the peer-reviewed journal article is considered as the ‘gold standard’ for quality research outputs. However, many researchers nowadays also consider preprints as important and highly relevant outputs that contribute to the body of knowledge and enable discoverability of current research developments.

A preprint is a version of a scholarly or research manuscript that precedes formal peer review, typesetting and publication in a scholarly or scientific journal. Preprints are often uploaded to online preprint servers or institutional repositories where they are freely accessible as non-typeset versions of the manuscripts.

Publishing of preprints allows researchers to quickly share new findings with their peers and receive early feedback and comments which can help in revising manuscripts for submission to a scholarly journal.

At the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), scientists from the Animal and Human Health program carry out collaborative research to effectively manage or eliminate livestock, zoonotic and foodborne diseases that matter to the poor through the generation and use of knowledge, technologies and products, leading to higher farmer incomes and better health and nutrition for consumers and livestock.

While most of their research outputs are published as peer-reviewed journal articles, the program scientists also publish their findings in other formats including books, book chapters, conference proceedings, infographics, presentations, posters, reports, theses and videos. These outputs are all indexed in CGSpace, an open access institutional repository of agricultural research outputs.

The scientists are also increasingly making use of preprints to share their research via open access. In line with the theme of Open Access Week, we present below a curated list of preprints by scientists from ILRI’s Animal and Human Health program and research partners, to highlight the contribution of these outputs to open knowledge and open science.

  • Ejigu, B.A., Asfaw, M.D., Cavalerie, L., Abebaw, T., Nanyingi, M. and Baylis, M. Assessing the impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) on the dynamics of COVID-19: A mathematical modelling study in the case of Ethiopia. medRxiv preprint. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.11.16.20231746
  • Kibugu, J.K., Mburu, D., Munga, L.K., Kurgat, R., Mukasa, B., Lusweti, F.N., Grace, D. and Lindahl, J. Food-borne mycotoxin hazards in the Kenyan market: A retrospective study. bioRxiv preprint. https://doi.org/10.1101/773747
  • Muloi, D., Wee, B., McClean, D., Ward, M., Pankhurst, L., Phan, H., Ivens, A., Kivali, V., Kiyonga, A., Ndinda, C., Gitahi, N., Ouko, T., Hassell, J., Imboma, T., Akoko, J., Karani, M., Njoroge, S., Muinde, P., Nakamura, Y., Alumasa, L., Öhgren, E., Amanya, F., Ogendo, A., Wilson, D., Bettridge, J., Kiiru, J., Kyobutungi, C., Tacoli, C., Kang’ethe, E., Davila, J., Kariuki, S., Robinson, T., Rushton, J., Woolhouse, M. and Fèvre, E.M. Landscape genomics of Escherichia coli in livestock-keeping households across a rapidly developing urban city. InReview preprint. https://doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-172737/v1
  • Mutembei, A., Mutai, F.K., Mwololo, D., Muriuki, J., Obonyo, M., Kairu-Wanyoike, S.W., Wainaina, M., Lindahl, J., Ontiri, E., Bukachi, S., Njeru, I., Karanja, J., Sang, R., Grace, D. and Bett, B. Leptospira spp. seroprevalence in humans involved in a cross-sectional study in Garissa and Tana River Counties, Kenya. bioRxiv preprint. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.07.17.208363
  • Njaramba, J.K., Wambua, L., Mukiama, T., Amugune, N.O. and Villinger, J. Species substitution in the meat value chain by high-resolution melt analysis of mitochondrial PCR products. bioRxiv preprint. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.01.12.426171
  • Njeru, J., Nthiwa, D., Akoko, J., Oyas, H. and Bett, B. Incidence of Brucella spp. in various livestock species raised under the pastoral production system in Isiolo County, Kenya. bioRxiv preprint. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.06.25.170753
  • Ogutu, H.J., Owiny, M., Bett, B. and Otieno, C. Contribution of livestock marketing chains and role played by stakeholders’ knowledge, attitude and practice in spreading cystic hydatidosis to Busia Town, Kenya, 2018. bioRxiv preprint. https://doi.org/10.1101/638502
  • Talenti, A., Powell, J., Hemmink, J.D., Cook, E.A.J., Wragg, D., Jayaraman, S., Paxton, E., Ezeasor, C., Obishakin, E.T., Agusi, E.R., Tijjani, A., Marshall, K., Fisch, A., Ferreira, B., Qasim, A., Chaudhry, U.N., Wiener, P., Toye, P., Morrison, L.J., Connelley, T. and Prendergast, J. A cattle graph genome incorporating global breed diversity. bioRxiv preprint. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.06.23.449389 
  • Xie, S., Tao, D., Fu, Y., Xu, B., Tang, Y., Steinaa, L., Hemmink, J.D., Pan, W., Huang, X., Nie, X., Zhao, C., Ruan, J., Zhang, Y., Han, J., Fu, L., Ma, Y., Li, X., Liu, X. and Zhao, S. Rapid visual CRISPR assay: a naked-eye colorimetric detection method for nucleic acids based on CRISPR/Cas12a and convolutional neural network. bioRxiv preprint. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.07.17.452802

Photo credit: International Open Access Week

Village women and livestock in Niger (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

A special issue (Aug 2021) of the Scientific and Technical Review journal of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) turns the spotlight on the operation of veterinary services in a world affected by various external factors such as climate change and emerging zoonotic diseases.

The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn the world’s attention to the threat of emerging zoonotic diseases and the importance of a One Health approach in preventing and responding to these and other global health challenges.

Veterinary services are a global public good underpinning animal agriculture. Therefore, governments need to ensure the sustained performance and resilience of veterinary services in the face of external factors.

The special issue was edited by three scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI): Delia Grace (also affiliated with the Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich), Hu Suk Lee and Jimmy Smith.

The 18 open access articles in the special issue—10 of which were co-authored by ILRI scientists—take an in-depth look at the implications of key external factors on veterinary services; these factors include animal welfare, antimicrobial resistance, climate change, digital technologies, planetary boundaries and zoonotic disease risks.

Future-facing initiatives relevant to veterinary services, such as global nutrition security, animal health and food safety risk assessments, and sustainable development, are also discussed.

Access the special issue: Veterinary services in a changing world: climate change and other external factors, Scientific and Technical Review 40(2).

Photo credit: Village women and livestock in Niger (ILRI/Stevie Mann)

A local cattle owner walks his cattle on a rainy day in Hung Yen province, Vietnam (photo credit: ILRI/Nguyen Ngoc Huyen).

Action for Animal Health is a coalition of multilateral organizations, non-governmental organizations and research institutes with expertise in animal, human and environmental health. The coalition advocates for increased investment in strong and resilient animal health systems that protect people, animals and the planet. The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), one of 15 CGIAR research centres, is a member of the coalition.

Ahead of this year’s G20 Health Ministers’ Meeting, scheduled for 5–6 September 2021, the Action for Animal Health coalition urges G20 countries to support four transformative actions for stronger animal health systems:

  1. Ensure communities have access to animal health services
  2. Increase and upskill the animal health workforce globally
  3. Improve access to safe medicines and vaccines for animals
  4. Strengthen early warning disease surveillance systems that are effective from the community level upwards

With 75% of new diseases emerging from animals, the G20 must fund and implement a One Health approach to prevent future pandemics. A One Health approach recognizes that the health of people is closely linked to the health of animals and their shared environment. It involves the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines and sectors to prevent and control diseases. It is especially useful for managing zoonoses, diseases transmitted between animals and people.

Zoonoses, like COVID-19, and antimicrobial resistance are among the major global public health threats facing humanity. The G20 urgently needs to invest in animal health to strengthen and secure global health systems and build resilience to future health challenges.

Photo credit: A local cattle owner walks his cattle on a rainy day in Hung Yen province, Vietnam (ILRI/Nguyen Ngoc Huyen)

Livestock keeping is an important source of livelihood in many communities around the world. However, zoonoses—diseases transmissible from animals to people—pose a major threat not only to animal health but also to the health of livestock keepers and their households. 

According to the World Health Organization, there are over 200 known types of zoonoses. The health and economic cost of these diseases falls largely on poorer countries which bear 98% of the global burden of zoonoses.

Where zoonoses are endemic, they tend to be under-studied, under-reported and often neglected by funding agencies compared to emerging zoonoses like avian influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome and, more recently, coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The so-called ‘neglected zoonoses’ include brucellosis, cysticercosis, leishmaniasis and rabies and mainly affect poor communities.

In the Horn of Africa, where pastoralism is an important livelihood activity, people live in close proximity to their livestock and their frequent interaction with animals increases their risk of infection with zoonoses.

To characterize and evaluate the nature of zoonoses research in the Horn of Africa, a team of scientists from Addis Ababa University, the International Livestock Research Institute, the University of Liverpool and the University of Nairobi carried out a scoping review that addressed the following questions: 

  • What specific zoonotic diseases have been prioritized for research?
  • What data have been reported (human, animal or environment)?
  • What methods have been applied?
  • Who has been doing the research?

The review is published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases (July 2021). A total of 2055 studies published between 1938 and 2018 focusing on seven countries and over 60 zoonoses were included in the review. Brucellosis received the most research attention while anthrax, Q fever and leptospirosis were comparatively under-studied. 

Very few studies used the multidisciplinary, multi-sector One Health approach that recognizes the interconnectedness of the health of people, animals and the environment. Instead, most studies gave separate focus to animals or humans and a single method or discipline. 

Descriptive and observational epidemiological research studies were dominant. However, in many cases, the research was not aligned with the priority zoonoses identified at national level. 

A high proportion of authors had affiliations from outside the Horn of Africa and there were few international collaborations between countries in the Global South.

Based on the findings of the scoping review, the authors recommend adoption of the transdisciplinary One Health approach, better alignment of zoonoses research with national priorities, and stronger regional and international partnerships that empower local scientists to carry out zoonoses research in the Horn of Africa.

Citation

Cavalerie, L., Wardeh, M., Lebrasseur, O., Nanyingi, M., McIntyre, K.M., Kaba, M., Asrat, D., Christley, R., Pinchbeck, G., Baylis, M. and Mor, S.M. 2021. One hundred years of zoonoses research in the Horn of Africa: A scoping review. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 15(7): e0009607.

Photo credit: A Borana woman with her small ruminants, Yabello, Ethiopia (ILRI/Camille Hanotte)

Taking sheep for disease testing in Bako, Ethiopia

Action for Animal Health is a new coalition that aims to secure greater support for animal health systems with a focus on:

  • increasing and improving the animal health workforce;
  • closing the veterinary medicines and vaccines gap;
  • improving animal disease detection, surveillance and management;
  • enhancing collaboration for One Health; and
  • supporting community education and engagement.

The International Livestock Research Institute is a member of the coalition and a signatory of its call to action for governments and international agencies to increase investment in animal health to protect animals, people and the environment.

The Action for Animal Health coalition will be officially launched at a virtual event on Thursday 20 May 2021 at 1200–1300 hours, UK Time (GMT +1). 

The theme of the event is Putting One Health into practice: A call to action for animal health.

The event will feature members of the Action for Animal Health coalition and other distinguished speakers.

For more information and to register for the event, please visit https://takeaction.thebrooke.org/page/81572/event/1.

We call on all organizations working in animal, human or environmental health to join us and become signatories of our Call to Action.

Join the online conversations by following the hashtag #Action4AnimalHealth

Photo credit: Taking sheep for disease testing in Bako, Ethiopia (ILRI/Barbara Wieland)

One Health is a concept that recognizes that the health of people is linked to the health of animals and their shared environment. A One Health approach in preventing and controlling diseases therefore involves the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines and sectors. This approach is especially useful for managing zoonoses, diseases that are transmitted between animals and people.

According to the World Health Organization, at least 61% of all human pathogens are zoonotic and have represented 75% of all emerging pathogens during the past decade. There are more than 200 known zoonotic diseases. The health and economic cost of these diseases falls largely on poorer countries which bear 98% of the global burden of zoonoses.

Additionally, in poorer countries, zoonoses comprise 25% of the human burden of infectious diseases. Just 13 of over 200 zoonotic diseases cause 2.4 billion cases of illness and 2.2 million deaths annually (not including COVID-19).

Most zoonotic diseases are endemic in nature. Apart from emerging zoonoses like severe acute respiratory syndrome, highly pathogenic avian influenza and now COVID-19, many endemic zoonoses such as brucellosis and cysticercosis are not prioritized by national and international health systems and are therefore termed neglected zoonoses.

The impact of neglected zoonoses is most severe on poor households in low-resource settings as most people living in rural areas depend on livestock for food, transport and farm work. People living in urban slums are also affected as the rise in urban livestock agriculture brings people and animals into closer contact.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the interconnectedness of people, animals and the environment, and the need for multi-disciplinary approaches such as One Health to tackle the challenge. Preventing and controlling zoonoses in domestic and wild animal populations is a cost-effective way to ensure such diseases do not spread to human populations.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has a wealth of research expertise on zoonoses and One Health. The institute recently launched a set of seven research briefs that highlight the benefits of One Health in sustainable livestock production towards improving the health of people, animals and the environment.

The brief Preventing and controlling human diseases transmitted by animals saves millions of lives and livelihoods gives an overview of the burdens and risks of endemic zoonoses and highlights what can be done to reduce the burden of neglected zoonoses and prevent the spread of emerging zoonotic diseases.

For example, innovative community disease surveillance programs can help health experts to detect disease outbreaks rapidly and identify the specific disease hotspots for more timely and targeted interventions.

A research study on the business case for One Health shows that every one dollar invested in One Health generates five dollars’ worth of benefits. Now is the time for governments, investors and policymakers to increase investment in One Health to prevent and control neglected zoonoses and safeguard the health of millions of people and animals and their shared ecosystem.

Citation

ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute). 2021. Preventing and controlling human diseases transmitted by animals saves millions of lives and livelihoods. Livestock pathways to 2030: One Health Brief 2. Nairobi: International Livestock Research Institute.

Read more

ILRI’s expertise on One Health

ILRI’s expertise on zoonoses

One Health Research, Education and Outreach Centre in Africa

Photo credit: Camels drinking at a water pan in Wajir county in Kenya (ILRI/George Wamwere-Njoroge)

Cattle and wildlife at the ILRI Kapiti Research Station (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu)

Developing risk maps for endemic livestock diseases is important for effective disease prevention and control, particularly in resource-limited countries.

For endemic and easily diagnosed diseases such as anthrax, a useful approach involves analysis and mapping of historical data to identify disease hotspots and define risk factors of its occurrence.

A new paper published in BMC Infectious Diseases (Feb 2021) presents the results of risk mapping of the 666 livestock anthrax events that occurred in Kenya between 1957 and 2017.

The mapping exercise found that there were about 10 anthrax events in Kenya annually, with the number increasing to as many as 50 events annually by 2005.

Mapping also revealed spatial clustering of the disease events in certain sub-counties; 12% of sub-counties were responsible for over 30% of anthrax events while 36% of sub-counties did not report any incidents of anthrax over the 60-year period under study.

Additionally, there was significantly greater risk of anthrax occurring in agro-alpine high- and medium-potential agro-ecological zones than in the arid and semi-arid regions of the country.

Cattle were over 10 times more likely to be infected by Bacillus anthracis (the bacterium that causes anthrax) than sheep, goats or camels.

There was lower risk of anthrax in August and December, months that follow the long and short rain periods, respectively.

By enabling analysis of the trends and patterns of occurrence of livestock anthrax across different regions over the years, the risk maps will be a useful tool for livestock health officials to identify and characterize Kenya’s anthrax hotspots, leading to better targeting of disease management interventions.

Citation
Nderitu, L.M., Gachohi, J., Otieno, F., Mogoa, E.G., Muturi, M., Mwatondo, A., Osoro, E.M., Ngere, I., Munyua, P.M., Oyas, H., Njagi, O., Lofgren, E., Marsh, T., Widdowson, M.-A., Bett, B. and Njenga, M.K. 2021. Spatial clustering of livestock anthrax events associated with agro-ecological zones in Kenya, 1957-2017. BMC Infectious Diseases 21(1): 191.

Photo credit: Cattle and wildlife at the ILRI Kapiti Research Station (ILRI/Paul Karaimu)

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