Vaccines


A pastor and his dog, Yabello, Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Camille Hanotte).

World Zoonoses Day is commemorated on 6 July every year to mark the day in 1885 when Louis Pasteur successfully administered the first vaccine against rabies, a deadly zoonotic disease. The day is also an occasion to raise awareness of the risk of zoonoses, infectious diseases that can be spread between animals and people.

On this year’s World Zoonoses Day, we highlight a new research study published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases (July 2020) that reports on the development, implementation and effectiveness of grassroots mass dog vaccination campaigns against rabies conducted in 2015, 2016 and 2017 in Laikipia County, Kenya.

According to the World Health Organization, rabies kills tens of thousands of people every year, mainly in Asia and Africa. Globally, rabies causes an estimated cost of US$ 8.6 billion per year. Dog bites are responsible for 99% of all cases of human rabies. Therefore, vaccinating dogs is the most cost-effective way to prevent rabies in people.

The research study found that while grassroots volunteer-based dog vaccination campaigns against rabies can be useful, these efforts need to be supported at a larger scale by county and national governments for a more sustainable approach towards eradicating the disease. Below is the author summary.

“Given the importance of mass vaccinations of domestic dogs towards eliminating human rabies in Africa and the site-specific challenges facing such campaigns, additional studies on the development and implementation of such efforts are needed.

One mechanism of mass vaccination lies in grassroots efforts that often begin at a very local scale and either develop into larger campaigns, remain local, or cease to persist past several years once interest and funding is exhausted.

Here, we discuss the development of a grassroots campaign in Laikipia County, Kenya from its local inception to its development into a county-wide rabies elimination effort.

Our results highlight challenges associated with achieving the targeted 70% coverage rate, including a need for consistent and systematic demographic monitoring of dog populations, limitations of the central point method, and logistical and financial challenges facing a volunteer-based effort.

Serious political commitment from both the local and national governments are necessary to take the budget beyond what a crowdfunded campaign can raise, including availability and access to quality dog rabies vaccines.

Without such outside support and substantial time to grow, grassroots campaigns might be better relegated to raising awareness and vaccinating dogs in small communities to protect those communities directly, without contributing to the broader ecosystem-wide transmission-stopping aim often sought by government human health and veterinary organizations.”

Citation

Ferguson, A.W., Muloi, D., Ngatia, D.K., Kiongo, W., Kimuyu, D.M., Webala, P.W., Olum, M.O., Muturi, M., Thumbi, S.M., Woodroffe, R., Murugi, L., Fèvre, E.M., Murray, S. and Martins, D.J. 2020. Volunteer based approach to dog vaccination campaigns to eliminate human rabies: Lessons from Laikipia County, Kenya. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 14(7): e0008260.

Pastoralism

A gender-inclusive approach to community livestock vaccination can help address the different barriers faced by men and women farmers and may increase the uptake of livestock vaccines

Scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) recently published a study on the uptake of the Rift Valley fever vaccine in Kenya and Uganda, incorporating gender in their analysis to better understand the different barriers that men and women farmers face in adopting and using livestock vaccines.

The barriers include the cost of vaccines, long distances to vaccination points, lack of information on vaccination campaigns and decision-making processes at the household level. Understanding these barriers can help veterinary workers design more effective community livestock vaccination programs of benefit to both men and women farmers.

‘Conducting gender analysis on livestock vaccine interventions can enable implementers to identify generic and gender-specific needs of their target beneficiaries’, says Edna Mutua, the lead author of the study and gender consultant at ILRI.

‘This will allow the use of the findings to inform the design and delivery of vaccination interventions to increase efficiency and uptake’, she adds.

Rift Valley fever is a viral, mosquito-borne zoonotic disease that affects cattle, sheep, goats and camels. It causes abortions in livestock and flu-like illness in humans. People can get infected through contact with secretions or tissue of infected animals.

Rift Valley fever is endemic in East Africa and its impacts are significant. An outbreak of the disease in Kenya in 2006–07 caused 150 human deaths and led to losses of USD 32 million from livestock deaths, reduced animal productivity and trade bans on livestock and livestock products.

Vaccination of livestock is currently the most effective measure to control the disease. Previous research on Rift Valley fever vaccines have tended to focus on the production, safety and efficacy of the vaccines. Very few studies have been carried out on the uptake and adoption of livestock vaccines and most of these did not include gender in the study design and analysis but treated male and female livestock farmers as a homogeneous group.

This new ILRI-led study, published in the journal Vaccines (August 2019), provides useful insights into how prevailing gender dynamics in communities such as the division of roles and responsibilities in farmers’ households can influence the uptake and adoption of livestock vaccines.

Uptake was defined as the process the farmers take from when they receive livestock vaccination information to consenting to have their animals vaccinated and presenting the animals for vaccination. Adoption was defined as the continuous use of the vaccine when needed, even without the intervention of veterinary departments.

The study was carried out in Kwale and Murang’a counties in Kenya and Arua and Ibanda districts in Uganda. Data were collected through 58 focus group discussions (30 in Kenya and 28 in Uganda), with 8–12 discussants per group, selected based on whether or not livestock were vaccinated during recent outbreaks of Rift Valley fever.

To incorporate gender into the study design, in each country, half of the focus groups comprised men only and the other half women only. This gender disaggregation enabled the research team to collect data from the different gender groups across all four study locations.

The researchers found that men and women farmers faced different barriers in accessing and using livestock vaccines and that these constraints were influenced by socio-cultural and economic contexts and location.

For all focus groups across the four locations, the farmers ranked the top three barriers to the uptake of livestock vaccines as the cost of vaccines, limited access to information on vaccination and the side effects of the vaccines. However, including the gender and locational differences in the analysis brought forth a clearer picture of which group was most affected by which constraint.

Women in one region, for example, cited the cost of vaccines as the key challenge while women in another cited the limited information available on vaccination campaigns. In one region, the cultural dynamics around livestock ownership were paramount; in another, the long distances the women had to walk their animals to access the vaccination points was key.

The general lesson, however, was the same: ‘Provision of livestock vaccines by veterinary departments does not always guarantee uptake by men and women farmers’, lead author Edna Mutua notes.

Mutua is optimistic that veterinary authorities in Kenya and Uganda will use the research findings to design more effective community vaccination campaigns to prevent and control Rift Valley fever.

‘My hope is that this study serves as an eye-opener to veterinary departments in Kenya and Uganda on the need to integrate gender analysis into their livestock vaccine programs’, she says. ‘Optimizing vaccine uptake requires us to have a better understanding of the local contexts and constraints within which male and female farmers operate’.

This article by Tezira Lore was first published in the ILRI 2019 Annual Report.

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.

Cattle being watered at the Ghibe River in southwestern Ethiopia

Cattle being watered at the Ghibe River in southwestern Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

 

The successful eradication of rinderpest in 2011 offers vital lessons that can be applied in the ongoing quest to eradicate other deadly animal diseases.

In an opinion piece in SciDev.Net (16 Aug 2017), Delia Grace, co-leader of the Animal and Human Health program at the International Livestock Research Institute, shares her experiences as part of the global rinderpest eradication campaign.

Read the full article on SciDev.Net

The contribution of livestock to human and animal health was among the several topics discussed at a high-profile conference organized by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 6-7 November 2014. The theme of the conference was Livestock-based options for sustainable food and nutritional security, economic well-being and healthy lives.

The conference was the culmination of a series of events organized this year to mark 40 years of livestock research by ILRI and its predecessors, the International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD) and the International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA).

Discussions under the sub-theme of ‘livestock and healthy lives’ began on the morning of the first day of the conference with a featured talk by Lorne Babiuk, vice president for research at the University of Alberta on how healthy animals can improve the health, welfare and economy of people.

Lorne Babiuk, vice-president for research at the University of Alberta

Lorne Babiuk presents a featured talk titled Healthy animals equals healthy, productive people at the ILRI@40 conference held on 6-7 November 2014 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu).

In his presentation, Babiuk noted that smallholder farmers dominate livestock production in many developing countries and globally, one billion poor people depend on livestock for their livelihoods.

However, despite the potential of smallholder livestock production to contribute to meeting the growing demand for animal protein in the developing world, the livestock sector is beset by several challenges such as emerging diseases and limited natural resources for raising livestock.

Zoonotic diseases, in particular, have impacts on international trade, food prices and human health.

Babiuk then discussed three biotechnology options that can be used to improve livestock production: vaccines, breeding and selection of disease-resistant animals, and marker-assisted management to produce better quality carcasses.

“Vaccination, in my opinion, has been one of the most cost-effective approaches for the management of infectious diseases,” he said.

“In fact, it’s been stated that vaccination has saved more lives than all other therapeutic interventions in the world.”

He also gave examples of how genetics can be used to improve productivity through classical breeding and selection and use of genomic tools.

Babiuk summed up his presentation by stating that increasing food security will become more critical as the world population increases and that “healthy animals equals healthy people equals healthy environment equals stable economic environments”.

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Continuing with the underlying theme of Babiuk’s talk, a roundtable discussion was held in the afternoon to examine the relationship between livestock, nutrition and health.

John McDermott, director of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health, moderated the discussion. The panellists were Walter Masiga, the World Organisation for Animal Health sub-regional representative for eastern Africa; Juliana Rwelamira, managing director of Sasakawa Africa Association and Vish Nene, director of ILRI’s livestock vaccines initiative.

Vish Nene, Juliana Rwelamira and Walter Masiga, panelists at ILRI@40 roundtable discussion on livestock and healthy lives

Left to Right: Vish Nene (ILRI), Juliana Rwelamira (Sasakawa Africa Association) and Walter Masiga (World Organisation for Animal Health) take part in a roundtable discussion on livestock and healthy lives at the ILRI@40 Addis Ababa conference (photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu).

McDermott began with an overview of the controversial and somewhat counterintuitive role of livestock in nutrition.

He noted that while animal-source foods are important sources of nutrition for poor people in low-income countries, there is underconsumption of livestock products by the poor on account of the high price of meat, milk and eggs relative to that of cereals.

On the other hand, overconsumption of livestock products in high-and middle-income countries has led to an increase in cases of obesity and related non-communicable diseases, a trend that is starting to emerge in low-income countries as well.

McDermott also noted that while meat, milk and eggs are good sources of vital nutrients, there are considerable health risks associated with livestock and livestock products.

“The most nutritious foods are also the most risky. You’re not going to get very sick eating rice as compared to eating spoiled milk or meat,” he said.

Intensification of agriculture to increase the supply of livestock is also associated with environmental contamination and increase of microbial populations, he added, noting that three-quarters of emerging diseases are zoonotic.

The roundtable discussion sought to link the economic development agenda of the livestock sector with issues related to health and nutrition.

Among the topics discussed were the One Health approach for more effective control of emerging diseases; vaccines and diagnostics; value chain development to reduce postharvest food losses and improve food safety and nutritional quality; risk-based approaches to food safety in informal markets and strengthening of national control systems to prevent misuse of antibiotics in treatment of animals.

The outcomes of the discussions on livestock and health on the first day of the conference fed into a parallel session on the second day. The aim of the session was to look into the future to identify the key priority areas for research on livestock and health in the next 40 years.

About 20 participants, mostly veterinary practitioners, took part in the parallel session on livestock and healthy lives which began with three scene-setting PowerPoint presentations and one poster presentation by scientists from ILRI’s Food Safety and Zoonoses program:

Following the presentations, the participants split into three groups for an in-depth discussion of the identified priority areas for research on livestock and health in the next 40 years. The discussions were based on their individual experiences, the content of the three presentations and current global trends in animal and human health.

They identified the following three priority areas for research on livestock and health:

  • emerging infectious diseases;
  • vaccines and diagnostics; and
  • antimicrobial residues and resistance.

Research on emerging infectious diseases needs to focus on increased understanding of the drivers of disease, for example, agricultural intensification, climate change, new farming systems, irrigation and increased mobility of animals and people. Research activities could include mapping, modelling and analysis of vectors; vector control through the use of ‘green’ insecticides; biological control of vectors and adoption of the Ecohealth approach to disease prevention and control.

Research on vaccines should be aimed at developing safe, single-dose, affordable ‘combination’ vaccines that are easy to deliver and target multiple pathogens. Rapid diagnostics that can be used along the food chain and are linked into large databases for surveillance can provide early warning systems for quick detection and reporting of potential health hazards and timely intervention.

Research on antibiotic residues and resistance needs to ensure prudent use of antimicrobials for treatment of farm animals to avoid residues in animal-source food products. The transfer of antibiotic resistance from animals to milk, meat and eggs was also identified as an important research area.

Dieter Schillinger

Dieter Schillinger leads a group discussion on antimicrobial residues and resistance as a priority area for research on livestock and healthy lives (photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu).

The group summed up the vision of ILRI’s livestock-for-health research in the next 40 years as follows:

ILRI research has contributed to appropriate health management systems leading to healthy animals, people and ecosystems and increase animal-source food and income for all’.

The Rift Valley fever virus is a mosquito-borne pathogen that causes explosive outbreaks of severe human and livestock disease in Africa and Arabian Peninsula. The rapid evolution of outbreaks of Rift Valley fever generates exceptional challenges in its mitigation and control.

A decision-support tool for prevention and control of Rift Valley fever in the Greater Horn of Africa identifies a series of events that indicates increasing risk of an outbreak and matches interventions to each event.

This poster, prepared for the Tropentag 2014 conference, presents information from a study that assessed the effectiveness of targeted vaccination in mitigating the impacts of outbreaks of Rift Valley fever.

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Mitigation of the impacts of Rift Valley fever through targeted vaccination strategies

This week, ILRI staff are participating in the Tropentag 2014 International Conference in Prague, Czech Republic (17-19 September 2014). There is also a dedicated ILRI@40 side event on livestock-based options for sustainable food and nutritional security and healthy lives.  See all the posters.