Disease Control


Cows walk along an irrigation canal in Niolo, Mali (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

As part of a special COVID-19 series by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Bernard Bett and Delia Randolph of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and John McDermott of IFPRI write on the growing risk in Africa of pathogens that spread from animals to people and how we can learn from past epidemics to improve preparedness and response.

In their article, the scientists discuss the evolving patterns of emergence and spread of zoonotic pathogens, factors that might influence the spread of emerging zoonotic pathogens and the opportunities for controlling emerging infectious diseases in Africa. 

They write: “The record thus far on COVID-19 and on past disease outbreaks shows that early, effective and sustained response is essential to winning the battle over these diseases. Innovative use of information and communication tools and platforms and engagement of local communities are crucial to improved disease surveillance and effective response. Building these systems requires demand from the public and commitment from policymakers and investors.” 

Read the full article, Africa’s growing risk of diseases that spread from animals to people, originally posted on the IFPRI website.

Bernard Bett is a senior scientist with ILRI’s Animal and Human Health program, Delia Randolph is the co-leader of ILRI’s Animal and Human Health program and John McDermott is the director of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health. The analysis and opinions expressed in the article are of the authors alone.

Crop-livestock systems in Vietnam (photo credit: ILRI/Hung Nguyen-Viet).

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease that commonly occurs in warm, tropical climates. It is characterized by high fever and flu-like symptoms that can last for up to one week. In a small proportion of cases, severe dengue may occur, leading to bleeding and low blood pressure. There is no specific treatment for infection but medication can be taken to control symptoms.

Climate change and rapid unplanned urbanization are among the factors that have brought people into more frequent contact with the vectors, thus contributing to further spread of disease.

According to the World Health Organization, the global incidence of dengue has risen dramatically in recent decades, with an estimated 390 million dengue infections annually.

Vietnam is one of at least 100 countries where the disease is now endemic. Dengue infection in Vietnam is unstable but peaks from June to October annually.

As part of efforts to curb the spread of dengue in Vietnam, research efforts are being undertaken to develop tools that will enable timely detection and control of the disease. One such research study recently examined seasonal trends of dengue in Vietnam and used the data to develop a statistical model to forecast the incidence of the disease.

The study, published in PLOS ONE (27 Nov 2019), was carried out by a team of researchers from the International Livestock Research Institute and Vietnamese partners from Hanoi University of Public Health, the Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Climate Change, the Ministry of Health and the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology.

To develop the statistical risk forecasting model, the researchers used dengue surveillance data that had been collected by health centres in Vietnam’s 63 provinces between 2001 and 2012. In addition, they obtained monthly meteorological data from the Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology and Climate Change. Land cover data were obtained from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer website of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The data were also used to develop risk maps of dengue incidence showing the distribution of the incidence of infection in the wet and dry seasons. The researchers are optimistic that with these new risk-based forecasting tools, policymakers and planners in Vietnam will be better able to predict dengue incidence in the country and thus respond in a timely manner to effectively control the disease.

Citation
Bett, B., Grace, D., Hu Suk Lee, Lindahl, J., Hung Nguyen-Viet, Phuc Pham-Duc, Nguyen Huu Quyen, Tran Anh Tu, Tran Dac Phu, Dang Quang Tan and Vu Sinh Nam. 2019. Spatiotemporal analysis of historical records (2001–2012) on dengue fever in Vietnam and development of a statistical model for forecasting risk. PLOS ONE 14(11): e0224353.

Infographic on antibiotic resistance: what the agriculture sector can do (credit: World Health Organization).

Each November, the World Antibiotic Awareness Week is commemorated to raise global awareness of antibiotic resistance and to encourage rational use of antibiotics to avoid further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.

In collaboration with national, regional and international partners, scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) carry out research on antimicrobial resistance at the human–livestock interface. In recognition of World Antibiotic Awareness Week 2019, we highlight some of our recent research outputs on antimicrobial resistance.

For more information, contact Arshnee Moodley (a.moodley@cgiar.org), antimicrobial resistance team leader at ILRI, or visit the website of the ILRI-hosted CGIAR Antimicrobial Resistance Hub.

A traceability system in the smallholder pig value chain in Kenya could help address challenges related to production, diseases, markets, pork safety and public health, according to a new study published by scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

Currently, Kenya does not have an operational livestock traceability system. Although a few systems have been piloted, these have only focused on the beef value chain and mostly in pastoralist areas. The smallholder pig value chain is suitable for the implementation of a traceability system as farmers usually keep a few pigs at a time and rely on a short marketing chain that is less complex.

The study, published in Tropical Animal Health and Production (16 Sep 2019), was based on a review of literature on pork traceability as well as on pig production in Kenya, with a focus on smallholder pig systems in western Kenya. Combined with the authors’ research experience in the region, the findings were used to inform the design of a traceability system for the smallholder pig value chain. 

Unique identification of animals is important for traceability. However, the review found that locally raised pigs were rarely identified. Farmers need to be made aware of the importance of identifying animals and recording their movements and how this can improve access to markets.

The study explains how a traceability system could support the surveillance of two important pig diseases in the region: African swine fever and porcine cysticercosis.

An effective traceability system could also enable the withdrawal of unsafe pork from the market, thereby helping to ensure the quality and safety of pork sold in local markets.

“Since meat inspection in the country has now been taken up by the county governments, we see traceability as an option that counties, in partnership with the private sector, could use to market themselves as producers of ‘safe and traceable’ pork”, the authors say. 

Starting with organized systems like commercial producer and trader groups, the concept can be piloted in the field to assess its practical application, paving the way for a national traceability system in line with the guidelines of the World Organisation for Animal Health. 

The authors of the study note, however, that implementing traceability as a tool towards improved animal health and food safety would require the participation of all stakeholders in the value chain. Therefore, appropriate incentives would need to be explored to ensure widespread adoption of the intervention.

Citation

Mutua, F., Lindahl, J. and Randolph, D. 2019. Possibilities of establishing a smallholder pig identification and traceability system in Kenya. Tropical Animal Health and Production. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-019-02077-9 

The design of strategies for uptake of livestock vaccines by communities in East Africa should take into account that male and female farmers face different barriers in the uptake of the vaccines, a new research study says.

These barriers include the cost of the vaccines, distances to vaccination points, access to information on vaccination campaigns and decision-making processes at household level. Some constraints affect both men and women while others affect one gender group only, based on prevailing gender norms and division of labour.

The study, published in the journal Vaccines (8 Aug 2019), was undertaken by a team of scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute, Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and the United States Agency for International Development Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance.

The work was carried out in purposively selected sites, namely, Kwale and Murang’a counties in Kenya and Arua and Ibanda districts in Uganda. The sites in Kenya were selected because livestock there had recently been vaccinated against Rift Valley fever while the sites in Uganda were chosen because they had experienced recent outbreaks of the disease but no vaccination was carried out. Data were collected through 58 focus group discussions (30 in Kenya and 28 in Uganda), with 8–12 discussants per group.

The researchers found that women in Kwale experienced more difficulties than their male counterparts in accessing information on vaccination campaigns while women in Ibanda had limited decision-making capacity over the management and control of livestock diseases because of culturally defined livestock ownership patterns. 

The cost of vaccines was a greater barrier for men than for women because the role of managing and controlling livestock diseases in these communities was culturally ascribed to men.

To be effective, therefore, livestock vaccination campaigns need to consider the socio-cultural gender dynamics that exist at household and community level. It is not enough to merely provide vaccines to the community during mass campaigns.

“Availability of vaccines does not guarantee uptake at community level due to social, spatial, economic and vaccine safety and efficacy barriers faced by men and women farmers,” the researchers note.

They add, “Vaccine uptake is a complex process which requires buy-in from men and women farmers, veterinary departments, county/district governments, national governments and vaccine producers”.

Citation

Mutua, E., Haan, N. de, Tumusiime, D., Jost, C. and Bett, B. 2019. A qualitative study on gendered barriers to livestock vaccine uptake in Kenya and Uganda and their implications on Rift Valley fever control. Vaccines 7(3): 86.

Pipetting in ILRI's biosciences laboratories

Pipetting in ILRI’s biosciences laboratories (photo credit: ILRI/David White).

The scourge of infectious diseases in Africa was the subject of a recent symposium co-hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa, the Uganda National Academy of Sciences and the German National Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina) in Durban, South Africa on 12–13 April 2018.

The symposium titled Surveillance and response to infectious diseases and co-morbidities: An African and German perspective was attended by about 100 participants from Africa and Germany including senior researchers, policymakers and representatives from the private sector. Presentations and discussions revolved around antimicrobial resistance, One Health, co-morbidities of infectious diseases and the ‘Big Four’ infectious diseases in humans (HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and hepatitis C).

Scientists from the human medical field dominated the symposium but in a panel discussion, the few animal health scientists present, including Kristina Roesel from the Animal and Human Health program of the International Livestock Research Institute, drew the audience’s attention to the importance of a One Health perspective on human disease as two thirds of human pathogens are of animal origin. Thomas Mettenleiter, member of the Leopoldina and president of the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (German Federal Research Institute for Animal Health), moderated the panel discussion.

The symposium was preceded by a one-day workshop on science advice jointly organized with the International Network for Government Science Advice–Africa and the International Council for Science Regional Office for Africa. Invited junior scientists got practical exposure to science advice including drafting communication strategies and role plays on infectious disease outbreak scenarios.

Article by Kristina Roesel

CGIAR Research Program on Livestock

Photo credit: Fernanda Dórea

Research shows that six out of 10 emerging human infectious diseases are zoonoses. Thirteen zoonotic diseases sicken over 2 billion people and they kill 2.2 million each year, mostly in developing countries. Poor people are more exposed to zoonoses because of their greater contact with animals, less hygienic environments, lack of knowledge on hazards, and lack of access to healthcare. 80% of the burden of these zoonotic diseases thus falls on people in low and middle income countries.

A workshop at last week’s Uppsala Health Summit zoomed in on zoonotic diseases in livestock and ways to mitigate risk behaviour associated with their emergence and spread. Critical roles and behaviours of people and institutions in preventing, detecting and responding to zoonotic livestock diseases were identified – as well as necessary changes and incentives so we are well-prepared for infections long before they reach people.

These zoonotic infections…

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