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    A Nairobi-based international research organisation has successfully developed a vaccine against Rift Valley Fever virus (RVF), which promises to save the lives of up to 90 per cent of  young livestock.
    Researchers at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) say the 'One Health' (ChAdOx1-GnGc) vaccine has shown high efficacy in controlling the spread of the viral disease, which also affects humans. 

    Besides saving the young ones cattle, sheep, goats and camels, the vaccine will also prevent massive abortions in mature animals. The disease has lower mortality rates in mature animals. The institute's vaccine Bioscience programme head Vish Nene said trials have been largely successful after tests on healthy animals.

    “This study demonstrated that a single-dose immunization in several species mediated protection against RVF, with no presence of the virus in the blood. As the institution moves to try One Health vaccine in the fields to confirm its efficiency away from the laboratories, Nene said, local and global regulatory authorities will need to address registration requirements for recombinant vaccines. 

    A recombinant vaccine is developed by introduction of a DNA encoding into health cells to trigger immune response. A single dose of  immunisation elicits a high-titre neutralising antibody, providing solid protection against FVF virus,” Nene said. 

    The virus, which is largely found in Africa, is spread by bites of more than 10 mosquito species. Survivors of the disease sometimes suffer permanent scars like imperiled vision. in case of an outbreak, the spread of the virus is more prominent during  rains because of more of the mosquitoes.

    According to the World Health Organinsation, one vaccine has been developed for human use, although it is neither licensed nor commercially available. Field tests, licensing and commercialisation of the vaccine could save the more than 20 million livestock in the country, which are supporting lives of many small and large scale-farmers. Kenya has been using available vaccines, but controlling the virus has remained a challenge since it was reported in Kenya in 1931.

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    The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) has unveiled new poultry vaccines with a longer shelf life, and which do not require refrigeration to store, making it easy for almost 80 per cent of poultry farmers in the country to effectively prevent common deadly viral diseases.
    Dubbed thermos stable, these vaccines are capable of withstanding fluctuating temperatures, while still maintaining their potency unlike ordinary vaccines in the market which must be stored in refrigerators lest they become ineffective.
    The vaccines, which were developed by the Kenya veterinary Vaccines Production Institute (KEVEVAPI), in collaboration with KALRO’s Non-Ruminant Research Centre, are made from superior protein molecules, making them resistant to heat, light, radiation and changes in the environment.
    According to Dr. David Miano of KALRO Kakamega, thermos stable vaccines for various poultry vaccines including Newcastle, Fowl Typhoid, fowl Pox and Gumboro are already in the market with 3 million doses already sold by yesterday.
    The innovation of these high tech vaccines is good news especially to smallholder farmers and agrovet operators in rural Kenya who lack access and cannot continuous supply of energy source like electricity required refrigeration. A recent World Bank survey shows that only 23 per cent of the country’s population is connected to the power grid with rural Kenya which accounts for 76 per cent of chicken in the country registering only 5 per cent.
    A 2014 study, vaccine handling and administration among poultry farmers in Nigeria published in the Scholars Journal of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences shows that 50.83 per cent of respondents in rural areas experience vaccine fail on their poultry, an aspect mostly blamed on contamination due to poor storage measures.
    A dose of these unique vaccines costs only Sh2 and can be bought either from KALRO offices in Naivasha and Kakamega or at the Kenya veterinary Vaccines Production Institute in Kabete.

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