Disease Control / Vaccines

Biotech News Roundup

Below is summary of Biotech related research news highlights published in ILRI Clippings and ILRI News blog between June and July 2011.

Australian TV program highlights research in race against time to save Africa’s ‘hairless sheep’ and other native breeds

Catalyst, the Australian Broadcasting Company’s well-regarded science television program, yesterday (14 Jul 2011) broadcast an episode on research being conducted in Kenya to conserve the native livestock of Africa.

Okeyo Mwai, an animal geneticist working at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), gives Catalyst’s Paul Willis an overview of some of Africa’s livestock treasures, including East Africa’s big-horned and beautiful Ankole cattle, the hardy and drought-resistant Boran cattle, and a ‘hairless’ and worm-resistant red Masai sheep. While the red Masai sheep produces no wool, this fast-disappearing breed possesses a genetic resistance to intestinal worms, a trait of intense interest to sheep breeders across Australia and the rest of the world, who still have to deworm their sheep on a regular and costly basis.

Read the full article here

Watch the ABC Catalyst video here

Goat plague next target of veterinary authorities now that cattle plague has been eradicated

Jeffrey Mariner, former advisor for special action areas to the Pan-African Rinderpest Campaign and current senior scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), based in Kenya, is one of several authors of a paper published in the current issue of Veterinary Record on the subject of the rising importance of building a systematic program to eradicate a goat disease known as ‘peste des petits ruminants’ (PPR), or goat plague.

The editorial in the Veterinary Record explains why goat plague is replacing cattle plague among the world’s verterinary researchers.

Read the full article here

Tufts vets standing proud

The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University is standing proud this week. Three of their graduates helped eradicate only the second disease ever eradicated from earth.

‘Three Tufts University researchers were praised by the international community for their help in eradicating rinderpest, a disease that has killed millions of cattle for millennia.

Read the full article here

It’s official! FAO declares rinderpest vanquished

This week, as the New York Times reports below, the United Nations officially declared that, for only the second time in history, a disease has been wiped off the face of the earth. The disease is rinderpest.

‘The name means “cattle plague” in German, and it is a relative of the measles virus that infects cloven-hoofed beasts, including cattle, buffaloes, large antelopes and deer, pigs and warthogs, even giraffes and wildebeests. The most virulent strains killed 95 percent of the herds they attacked..

 Read the full article here

Deadly rinderpest virus today declared eradicated from the earth–’greatest achievement in veterinary medicine’

Several world bodies are celebrating what is being described as ‘the greatest achievement in veterinary medicine’: the eradication of only the second disease from the face of the earth.

The disease is rinderpest, which means ‘cattle plague’ in German. It kills animals by a virus—and people by starving them through massive losses of their livestock.

‘In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries,’ reports the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), ‘the disease devastated parts of Africa, triggering extensive famines. . . . After decades of efforts to stamp out a disease that kept crossing national borders, countries and institutions agreed they needed to coordinate their efforts under a single, cohesive programme. In 1994, the Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme (GREP) was established at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in close association with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

‘Excellent science, a massive vaccination effort, close international coordination and the commitment of people at all levels have helped make rinderpest eradication possible…

Read the full article here

Livestock genes identified to unlock protection from animal plagues

Xinhuanet, the Chinese Xinhua News Agency online service, reports on an international research team that used a new combination of approaches to find two genes that may prove of vital importance to the lives and livelihoods of millions of farmers in a tsetse fly-plagued swathe of Africa.

‘The research, aimed at finding the biological keys to protection from a single-celled trypanosome parasite that causes both African sleeping sickness in people and a wasting disease in cattle, brought together a range of high-tech tools and field observations to address a critical affliction of some of the world’ s poorest people..

Read the full article here

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