Researchers at the Nairobi based International Livestock Research Centre (ILRI) are currently working on a project that will help forestall diseases that are passed between humans and animals
The project currently being undertaken in Busia, Western Kenya will investigate ways of projecting disease plagues such as Hiv/Aids and bird flu that have in recent years claimed millions of lives in Africa and beyond.
Diseases that can be transmitted from humans to livestock are known as zoonotic diseases.
The research project in western Kenya is part of a larger study being conducted by the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) Hub, to look at diseases of animals and people across eastern Africa. The BecA Hub team is using genomics and meta-genomics, and ’four million bucks of computing power,’ to build a picture of the complex relations of disease pathogens circulating in the region.
“There are lots of zoonotic infections. In fact, about 60 per cent of all human diseases are of zoonotic origin. It seems to be obvious that zoonotic infections will occur more in people who keep livestock than in those who don’t”, observes Eric Fevre, ILRI’s principal investigator in the Western Kenya region.
This close association between animals and humans makes this research all the more necessary.
“Cattle are tethered within the compound that everybody’s working in, the chickens are loose around, going in and out of the houses. It’s a much more integrated system than anything we really see at home” said Lian Doble, another researcher on the project.
by Mwangi Mumero