The Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries has confirmed the outbreak of a vaccine-resistant strain of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in various parts of the country.
In a statement, the State Department of Livestock (SDL) blamed the emergence of the serotype O FMD strain on the ineffectiveness the water-based vaccine that remains the primary preventive and treatment solution countrywide.
Most FMD cases have been reported in the drought-hit counties of Nairobi, Nakuru, Marsabit, Garissa, Kwale and Narok. Veterinary Services Director Dr. Obadiah Njagi said low vaccination coverage and uncontrolled livestock movement between quarantine and non-quarantine zones have fuelled the rapid spread of the disease.
“Some of the outbreaks were linked to an apparently new variant of the ‘serotype O’ that has not been detected in the country before, but is in circulation in neighbouring nations. The current vaccine may, therefore, be unable to prevent the disease,” Njagi said.
Presently, farmers can only prevent and treat FMD using a vaccine that is produced locally by the Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Institute. However, the efficacy of the vaccine is compromised by its short-term effectiveness of 3 months.
As a result, it has to be administered at least 3 times a year to improve immunity. The need for repeated administration has increased disease mitigation costs for farmers, and led to a reduced uptake of the vaccines.