By Sharon Atieno

“Patients had very high fever with temperatures of up to 39.9%. They also had severe headache and nose bleeding,” recounts Ibrahim Hassan, Animal health worker, Garissa county.

This was the situation in 2006, when a major outbreak of Rift Valley fever (RVF) hit the North Eastern region of Kenya. There were almost 700 cases and more than 230 people dead. Smaller outbreaks have occurred since then.

RVF is a zoonotic disease transmitted from animals to human through contact with the blood or organs of infected animals. The disease affects domesticated animals including: cattle, sheep, camels and goats leading to huge losses.

Despite communities in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid areas largely depending on livestock for their livelihood, 1 in 4 animals succumb to preventable diseases such as enterotoxemia, Pasteurella, and RVF.

While Pasteurella is a bacterial disease that causes acute pneumonia in goats and sheep, and leading to camel deaths due to change in climate conditions; Enterotoxemia is a bacterial disease that severely affects sheep and goats.

It is for this purpose that the Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Institute (KEVEVAPI) partnered with Multi Chemical Industries (MCI) Santé Animale in Morocco to come up with vaccines for these three diseases.

Speaking during a virtual Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA) pre- conference, Dr. Jane Wachira, Chief Executive Officer KEVEVAPI said that the three vaccines were of significance in prevention of diseases in sheep, goats and camels which are mainly found in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs).

She noted that 58% of the country’s small ruminants are found in the ASALs due to their fast multiplication which makes them economically viable for pastoral communities.

The vaccine development project supported by International Development Research Centre (IDRC) began in 2018 and cost CA$213,000.