Time for African livestock keepers to take control of their own destiny

By: Abdallah Said Twahir, Director of Market Development and Access at GALVmed

Photos (left to right): Cattle isolation unit; CTTBD grounds; CTTBD Tick House. Photos credit: A S Twahir

Photos (left to right): Cattle isolation unit; CTTBD grounds; CTTBD Tick House. Photos credit: A S Twahir

21st November 2014 – The Centre for Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases, or just CTTBD as it is better known, is in the outskirts of Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi. It produces a unique vaccine against a killer livestock disease responsible for large numbers of deaths in cattle. East Cost Fever (ECF or Ndigana as it is known in parts of Kenya and Tanzania) is responsible for over 1 million cattle deaths a year with considerable consequences on livestock keepers’ livelihoods.

However, a solution is available. A vaccine referred to as the ECF-ITM involves infecting an animal with disease-causing organisms and then treating the animal with a long-acting antibiotic to produce lifelong immunity.

It takes over 18 months to produce the vaccine at a considerable cost. The vaccine is expensive BUT not as expensive as the cost and effects of loss of livelihoods to the livestock keeper.

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(7th November 2014) – The Centre for Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases (CTTBD) in collaboration with Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) be launched on Friday 5th December as a centre of excellence in the East Coast Fever (ECF) vaccine production within Africa.

The newly refurbished, state-of-the-art centre produces the ‘one shot for life’ Muguga trivalent (cocktail) East Coast Fever vaccine with institutional support from GALVmed.

The centre, formerly known as the Vaccine Production Centre, was established in 1979 by the African Union and rebranded CTTBD in 2000. It was set up as a self-financing trust to assist with the management of ticks and tick-borne diseases in the region. The main objective of CTTBD is to provide support for the development of the livestock industry in Africa through:

  • Training in epidemiology and tick-borne diseases
  • Control techniques
  • Production of quality-assured vaccines for tick-borne diseases
  • Backup services to tick-borne disease vaccine application in the field
  • Assistance in the investigation and control of tick-borne diseases

CTTBD is now producing the ECF vaccine, originally developed and produced by the renowned, Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute. Tick-borne diseases are one of the major constraining factors in the development of the African livestock industry. ECF is the most deadly of the tick-borne diseases as it kills millions of cattle annually. It affects 11 countries in Africa including: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The disease devastates the livelihoods of dairy producers, pastoral livestock herders and small-scale crop and livestock farmers.

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