On the heels of the 2011 eradication of cattle plague (rinderpest) is a new ‘frieze-dried’ vaccine that could eradicate goat plague—The Economist reports from ILRI

Goats being herded near Wajir, northern Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/Riccardo Gangale).

‘. . . [R]inderpest, a cattle disease similar to measles, which was eradicated in 2011 . . . has plagued Africa and other parts of the world ever since cattle were domesticated. In the 1980s an outbreak, originating in Sudan, killed millions of bovines across the continent. Eradication was a triumph of veterinary medicine, as rinderpest became only the second disease, either animal or human, to be wiped out, the first being smallpox.

It is exciting, therefore, that a team of scientists at a research institute in Kenya think peste des petits ruminants, or “goat plague”, could be eradicated too, thanks to their new vaccine. The disease kills up to 70% of the herds of sheep or goats it infects, animals vital to the survival of many of Africa’s poorest people.

‘The vaccine was created using a process called lyophilisation, or freeze-drying,’ says Phil Toye, a scientist who worked on the goat-plague team at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi.

‘Although a vaccine has been around for years, it goes off, like milk, if taken out of the fridge. Vaccinators have to set up “cold chains”, transporting it to its destination in cans of liquid nitrogen between refrigeration units. This is cumbersome enough in easy-to-reach places, and almost impossible in more remote ones where roads and electricity are scarce. The new freeze-drying process creates a thermostable version of the vaccine which doesn’t deteriorate in hot climates. . . .’

Read the whole article in The Economist: An end to goat plague? How to tackle one of Africa’s nastiest problems, 27 Jul 2017.

Read more about this vaccine work on the ILRI News blog:

Following the vaccine that wiped out rinderpest, a new vaccine against sheep and goat plague proves promising, 14 Jun 2017.

Experts meet to share tactics in fight against ‘goat plague’: Filmed highlights, 20 May 2013.

Alliance meeting this week to battle global ‘goat plague’, 29 Apr 2013.

After successful eradication of rinderpest, African researchers now focus on peste des petits ruminants, the most urgent threat to African livestock, 20 Nov 2010.