29.11.2018

Establishing a diagnostic surveillance platform in Northern Tanzania

Tanzania cattle and goats
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Livestock are a very important part of the agricultural economy of Tanzania and support the livelihoods of many families by contributing to the national food supply and food security and the provision of draught power and manure to support crop production.  Tanzania has around 21 million cattle, 15 million goats and 5 million sheep with 99% of the livestock being kept by small-holder and pastoralist farmers.

Livestock are an important source of income to farmers however, there are significant issues with low production and growth rates of animals, low reproductive rates and high mortality. Infectious disease is a major constraint to efficient livestock production and is a significant cause of reproductive loss.

A collaborative research project has been established to determine the main causes of reproductive losses in Tanzanian livestock, establish a diagnostic surveillance platform to investigate abortion events and to use the data to develop evidence based intervention strategies to help prevent losses from these diseases and to improve production efficiency of livestock for local farmers.

The project, Causes and extent of mortality of domestic ruminants in Tanzania: Supporting evidence based interventions to achieve agriculture development goals in Tanzania (SEBI-TZ) is being led by the University of Glasgow and involves researchers at Moredun Research Institute; the Zonal Veterinary Centre, Arusha; Tanzania Veterinary Laboratory Agency; Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute; Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology; University of Otago, Napier University and Washington State University (Global Animal Health Tanzania). The project is being funded through the University of Edinburgh as part of its Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation financed Supporting evidence based interventions to achieve agriculture development goals.

The project is focusing on several key pathogens that are known to be important causes of abortion in cattle and small ruminants including, Neospora caninum, Bovine viral diarrhoea virus, bovine herpes virus 1; bluetongue virus; leptospira; Brucella abortus; Coxiella burnetii; Chlamydia abortus and Toxoplasma gondii.

A workshop held in Northern Tanzania in 2017 brought together the project participants to help establish the diagnostic test platform and to work with the local veterinary field officers to develop sampling collection methods from the livestock. Over 30 field veterinary officers took part in the workshop along with researchers involved in the project where the groups worked together to discuss and get hands on training on how to collect and store relevant samples to enable accurate diagnosis of disease.  The research team also focus on ensuring the transfer of relevant serological and molecular diagnostic techniques and methods to the laboratories to enable the diagnostic platforms for reproductive diseases to be established and operational in Tanzania. Additionally, the team make a point of feeding‑back results – with appropriate advice – to the livestock owners so that they can make rational decisions about managing their animals. Feedback also ensures local buy-in to the research project.

The project is underway and early results have been very exciting in establishing diagnosis for several important reproductive pathogens in Tanzanian livestock samples. The next stage of the project is to use the evidence collected from the fieldwork to focus on implementing relevant prevention and control strategies to help improve the reproductive efficiency of livestock, which will be a significant benefit for small-holder and pastoralist farmers in Tanzania.

Further information about the prevention and control of some of the key reproductive diseases of livestock relevant to this project can be found at:

https://www.moredun.org.uk/research/diseases/neosporosis

https://www.moredun.org.uk/research/diseases/toxoplasmosis

https://www.moredun.org.uk/research/diseases/chlamydial-enzootic-abortion

https://www.moredun.org.uk/research/diseases/bovine-viral-diarrhoea-bvd

https://www.moredun.org.uk/foundation/outreach/animation-series

 

This research is supported by the Supporting Evidence Based Interventions project, University of Edinburgh (grant number R83537)

For further information please contact: Professor Lee Innes E: info@moredun.org.uk