East Coast fever: Tackling neglected livestock diseases in Africa


Today, a cow dies from East Coast fever every 30 seconds. And over the course of a year, that results in a million cattle deaths and a total annual loss of $383 million. To make matters worse, East Coast fever doesn’t receive the attention it deserves.

"You know, we're one of a handful. I think I cannot even count more than six labs that probably work on this disease in the world."

Vish Nene, co-leader of the animal and human health program.

In the early 1900s, cattle herds across South Africa were devastated by a new livestock disease. Today, more than 100 years later, that disease is called East Coast fever, and despite scientists' best efforts to control it, the disease continues to devastate cattle and livelihoods across the dozen African countries where it is endemic. 

In this episode, presenters Elliot Carleton and Brenda Coromina speak with ILRI scientist Vish Nene as they examine what makes East Coast fever such a devastating disease, and more importantly, how modern vaccines may be able to address it. 


0:58    History of East Coast fever

2:16    A neglected disease

3:09    Why is East Coast fever so dangerous?

4:56    East Coast fever's impact on livelihoods

5:46    And what about vaccines?

8:20    But there's one big problem...

8:52    The Muguga cocktail

9:42    The benefits of vaccination

11:47  Remaining challenges with current vaccines

13:10  A subunit vaccine for the future

Find all The Boma episodes here: ilri.org/podcast