The government has launched a Sh200 million plan to eradicate a highly contagious and deadly disease affecting goats and sheep.
Peste des petits ruminants (PPR), a viral disease, affects both domestic and wild small ruminants and is endemic in Isiolo, Samburu, Laikipia, Baringo, Turkana, Mandera, Garissa, Wajir, Marsabit, Lamu, Tana River, West Pokot, Meru and Tharaka Nithi.
Between 2006 and 2008, at least 1.2 million sheep and goats in Kenya died of the disease – a loss estimated to be worth Sh24 billion – prompting a Sh1.2 billion vaccination campaign in 2008.
Together with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the government is working on getting Kenya declared PPR-free by 2027, with vaccination campaigns in 14 arid and semi-arid counties, because mass vaccination is more effective and sustainable than treating sick animals.
“Today, we join the global campaign to eradicate PPR. This will help us wipe out other livestock diseases including sheep and goat pox and contagious caprine pleuropneumonia to improve food security and boost livestock production which is key to the country’s economy,” said Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, while launching the plan in Isiolo Town on Saturday.
Without adequate control measures, PPR – a viral disease – spreads rapidly, infecting up to 90 per cent of the flock and killing 100 goats and sheep in a week.
According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the virus is secreted in tears, nasal discharge, cough droplets, and the faeces of infected animals.
The disease spreads when other animals come into contact with the infected secretions or inhale droplets from coughs and sneezes by infected animals.
Water, feeding troughs, and bedding can also be contaminated with secretions and fuel the spread of the disease, even before symptoms appear, as infected animals move and interact with other animals.
However, the virus does not survive for a long time outside the body of a host animal, and it does not affect humans.
If left unchecked, PPR leaves pastoralists and farmers counting massive losses.
In the lead-up to the launch of the disease eradication plan, more than 4,000 goats and sheep in Isiolo and Samburu were vaccinated.
Mr Kiunjuri called upon border countries to foster strong cross-boundary linkages for close monitoring of the viral disease.
“We have signed a memorandum of understanding with our neighbours to ensure increased surveillance of transboundary diseases,” he said.
Isiolo Governor Mohamed Kuti added that a common framework for efficient and effective control of livestock diseases had been developed by frontier counties (Garissa, Isiolo, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Tana River and Wajir).
He noted that regular vaccination of livestock in the region had helped control PPR and other livestock diseases, despite the challenge of porous borders.
His Laikipia counterpart Ndiritu Muriithi called on pastoralists and farmers to take their animals for vaccination to help wipe out the disease.
The 2009 census showed that there were 27.7 million goats and 17.1 million sheep in Kenya, and according to the Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Institute, 60 per cent of Kenya’s livestock is found in arid and semi-arid lands, which comprise 80 per cent of the country. This livestock is a major source of food and nutritional security as well as livelihoods, but disease outbreaks are a challenge for production.