Reflections from the field: On the trail of Pestes des Petits Ruminants

On a recent trip to India, I had the opportunity to visit Manda Pandey in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh. I was traveling with my colleague Rahul Srivastava who is the Marketing Officer for our South Asian programmes. Rahul and I were going to visit a new project that GALVmed is launching in the area to protect small ruminants (sheep and goats) against PPR (Pestes des Petits Ruminants). Here, 90% of tested animals were positive for exposure to PPR, yet livestock owners are oblivious to the problem that they face. The Sharif Gramudyog Vikas Kendra (SGVK) PPR vaccination project has thus been launched to deal with the disease.

Herders have access to pasture on land rented by goat keepers from land owners.

PPR is a disease that mostly affects goats and to a lesser extent sheep. The disease is present in many parts of Africa and Asia. It is rapidly fatal in young animals. Most deaths are likely to occur 3-4 months after peak kidding and lambing, after maternal antibody levels drop to ineffective levels; 55-85% of affected animals die. The animals most at risk are those below one year of age. If an animal recovers, it has lifelong immunity [i].

PPR is initially characterised by a number of symptoms that appear between 6-7 days after contact with infected animals. These include a high fever, dullness, sneezing and serous (watery) discharge from the eyes. These are then followed a day or two later by lesions in the mouth, and discharge in the nose and eyes which becomes pus-like. Diarrhoea will develop 3-4 days after the onset of a fever.  Respiratory signs (laboured breathing and coughing) follow and become more severe when there is a secondary bacterial pneumonia.

Vaccination against PPR only works before the animals get the disease. Vaccination prevents disease and consequent loss of productivity (poor growth, drop in milk production, death).

Rajasthan goats

The PPR/SGP vaccination project is aimed at small holder goat keepers. The aim is to get the livestock keepers to routinely vaccinate their goats and deworm. The project also aims to improve the community knowledge base and rearing practices to develop goat rearing as a viable livelihood activity. By the end of 12 months, over 92,000 PPR vaccinations will have been done, sixteen people trained to provide animal health services and two outlets supported to provide animal health inputs.

Milking buffaloes being fed supplements.

During this particular trip we also had the opportunity to visit a buffalo dairy and goat farm in Joya, Amroha also in Uttar Pradesh. The farm is owned and managed by Mr Azam Abbas. The farm has 17 buffaloes and 40 Rajashtan goats. This farm gets INR 40 per litre for their buffalo milk compared to INR 36 per litre that is the market rate. Goat milk is considered to be of medicinal value and sells at INR 2,000 [ii] per litre. Goats for meat are sold at 4 months of age weighing approximately 16-18kg with a killing out percentage of 45-48%. A Rajasthan buck weighs as much as 175kg.

Access to market is the main challenge for goat keepers and often at the mercy of traders who often manipulate the market for their own benefit.

[i] Radostits, O. M. et al, Veterinary Medicine.

[ii] 1 Indian rupee ~ 1.5 Kenya shillings


By Abdallah Twahir, Director of Market Development and Access

Dairy farmer cooperatives find innovative ways to vaccinate members’ cattle against ECF

Ask any dairy farmer in Kenya what livestock disease they dread most and the repeated answer is East Coast Fever. The disease raises fear amongst cattle keepers because it has such a high fatality rate – it remains the single biggest killer of cattle in 11 countries in eastern and central Africa, putting more than 25 million cattle at risk. Vaccination offers the best protection for cattle as treatment options are expensive and there is no guarantee that the animal will not be affected again.

For many smallholder farmers, vaccination still remains a challenge due to lack of awareness, logistics and costs associated with the vaccination. The ECF Muguga Cocktail vaccine costs from US $6 to $10 per animal depending on the animal’s size. This is considered a small investment a farmer can make to protect a larger investment –cattle. In pastoralists’ areas, ECF vaccinations have taken off a lot faster than dairy sectors.

“Its easier to coordinate vaccinations in pastoralists’ areas because more often than not, many cattle are herded making it a lot easier for the vaccinators to perform the vaccinations at one go rather than rounding animals in small numbers from homestead to homestead as is often the case with dairy cows,” says Dr Rawlynce Bett of AgriHaus in Kenya.

A single straw of the vaccine contains 40 doses, which need to be administered within a few hours of reconstituting the vaccine. For these reasons, 40 animals are required in any single vaccination undertaking.

Many smallholder farmers gathered at the event to learn about the vaccination exercise.

Dr Bett also says that pastoralists with a large number of animals have the option of selling one or two animals to cover the cost of the vaccination compared to dairy farmers who own few and more expensive animals. One dairy cow can cost up to KSh 250,000 (US $ 2,500).  This makes the vaccination of dairy cows ever so crucial because of the level of investment the farmers put into the animal.

But many smallholder farmers are still struggling with ECF vaccination. It is for this reason that one of GALVmed’s partners in ECF vaccination, AgriHaus, has teamed up with the New Kenya Cooperative Creameries (New KCC) through its wide network of milk collection centres to bring the benefits of ECF vaccine to dairy farmers. New KCC is one of the largest dairy processor in the East and Central Africa and has a network of 22 milk cooling plants and over 30 satellite milk coolers spread across the country. The milk manufacturer has put together an extension services platform comprising field service offices, committees, coordinators, agents and plant managers spread out in various milk collection centres. The platform has brought on board essential service providers who offer continuous services to the farmers including ECF vaccination. AgriHaus is mainly undertaking vaccinations in the dairy areas.

On July 27th 2016, the New KCC Molo Dairy Plant launched its ECF vaccination campaign. The plant which is located in Elburgon town in Nakuru County, north-west of the Kenyan capital Nairobi offers its 11,000 members an all-inclusive package for animal health and financial services. Members are then required to pay a small fee through their milk earnings, which goes towards these services.

“As a dairy plant, our main interest is to improve the productivity of our members. We analysed why our members are not getting high milk yields and came up with a number of limiting factors – disease being one of them. We want to try and work with our members to reduce these limiting factors so that we can improve our milk yields,” explains Mr. Bett Hillary, the New KCC Molo Dairy Plant Manager. He explains that this package is paid for directly by the dairy plant to service providers and therefore the issue of lack of money by the farmers to vaccinate the animals doesn’t arise anymore. “We want to be actively involved in the management of our members’ animals, to ensure they receive the best care for optimal production,” he says.

The launch kicked off an intensive vaccination exercise, which will see about 20,000 animals being vaccinated in parts of Nakuru, Baringo and Kericho counties (northwest of Nairobi) over the next two months by AgriHaus. Already, 7,500 animals have already been vaccinated.  Once the animals are vaccinated, they are tagged and given unique identity numbers. They will then be registered to enable farmers access a host of services including finance and insurance.

According to Dr Bett, AgriHaus is targeting to partner with 22 milk cooling plants and over 30 satellite milk coolers across 19 counties owned by New KCC. This will bring the total number of dairy cows targeted for vaccination to 180,000.

Written by: Beatrice Ouma, GALVmed Communications Manager

A novel initiative for a new brucellosis vaccine

A new US $30 million initiative was launched in June 2016 to offer a solution to a sheep and goat disease that is transmitted to over 500,000 people per year worldwide. The prize is one of the largest of its kind and is funded by AgResults, a collaborative multi-donor initiative between the Australian, Canadian, UK and US governments and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The initiative was set up to encourage the private sector to find innovative solutions to development challenges.

A worldwide competition for a worldwide disease

The brucellosis vaccine initiative hopes to incentivise those in the animal health, biotech and pharmaceutical sectors to develop a vaccine to protect against the sheep and goat disease caused
by Brucella melitensis. Brucellosis is a bacterial and zoonotic disease affecting significant numbers of people worldwide who depend on livestock for their livelihood. It is primarily endemic in North and East Africa, the Middle East, South and Central Asia, Central and South America and Europe’s Mediterranean region. Causing abortions, infertility, decreased milk production and weight loss, amongst other effects, in pigs and ruminants, the disease results in a loss of income and nutrition for many smallholder farmers. In people it may cause fever, fatigue and other debilitating clinical signs, which may become chronic if not treated appropriately. The annual impact of brucellosis to smallholder farmers in South Asia and sub-
Saharan Africa is estimated at US $641 million per year.

Prompting the private sector

The current livestock vaccinations for brucellosis require complex management systems to be effective and may pose a threat of contracting the disease among vaccinators, as the current vaccines contain the live microorganism. Furthermore, due to the thermosensitive nature of the vaccine, it needs constant refrigeration, which for rural or nomadic farmers is not always feasible. Peter Jeffries, CEO of the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) – an organisation that makes livestock vaccines and medicines accessible and affordable for smallholder farmers in developing countries – says, “Brucellosis is a significant disease for many people in the developing world and it causes human and animal health problems. An effective brucellosis vaccine would have an incredible global impact.”

In order to develop a new vaccine that can be used in countries where the disease is still endemic, AgResults has contracted GALVmed to host the Brucellosis Vaccine Prize Competition. The prize is designed to provide those in the relevant fields with incentives through significant financial awards that encourage them to deliver a vaccine with significant benefits over the current products available.

GALVmed will act as the project manager working with stakeholders, applicants, the technical committee and the judging panel. The technical committee is an advisory panel of brucellosis and industry experts responsible for finalising the contest rules and desired specifications for the vaccine. The judging panel, also a body of brucellosis and industry experts, will then use these specifications to determine at each stage whether applicants working towards creating a vaccine (known as solvers) are eligible for a milestone payment.

How to win US $30 million for a best-in-class vaccine

img_2374The competition is structured in such a way that solvers will only receive money if they achieve key objectives, which are structured into three milestone periods. In the first milestone, up to ten solvers may be awarded the first prize of US $100,000 each, following selection by the judging panel based on a submission of a competitive application to AgResults.

The second stage of the competition focuses on product development. To be eligible for this stage’s associated milestone payment of US $1 million, solvers must test a scaled-up version of the vaccine to prove it meets the necessary efficacy standard.

In the last milestone, the first solver to register a vaccine that meets the minimum viable product standards will be awarded a grand prize of US $20 million. These standards require that the vaccine must be safe to administer and more effective in target animals than present vaccines. Organisations have up to ten years to register the new product. An additional prize of US $5 million will be awarded to the solver, which may be either the final prize winner or a different solver, who develops a vaccine that meets the ‘Best in Class’ criteria of the target product profile. While currently being finalised, this may include the use of innovative technology to ensure superior safety in people and animals, protection against more than one Brucella species in small ruminants, and a reduced reliance on refrigeration.

This approach of setting out a prize for finding a highly innovative solution for an old problem, also known as ‘pull mechanism’, has already been successfully used in other areas, but is completely new to the livestock and animal health sector. It may therefore not only bring new and better vaccines to smallholder farmers and prevent diseases, but it may also trigger similar initiatives and further innovation.

Register for the competition

Visit the Brucellosis Vaccine Prize Competition website:

For more information email:

Written by Sophie Reeve, WRENmedia

Produced by WRENmedia for GALVmed