Is there an association between plastic consumption (by animals), quality of meat and public health?

Is there an association between plastic consumption (by animals), quality of meat and public health?

We would like to bring to your attention a documentary that appeared in the NTV (Kenya) on 21st August 2017 as part of a short baseline study between UNEP and the ILRI-ZED Group and which can be accessed at the video at end of this post:

Cases: It is noted that out of 100 animals that are slaughtered 10-15 have plastic materials in their rumen with cases prevalent among animals reared in the urban and peri-urban areas.

Seasonality: Mainly an issue during dry periods due to scarce food

Impact to animals: Plastics lodge in the rumen of the ruminants and thus affecting the normal motility of the rumen. The impaired motility of the rumen results to poor nutrient absorption and altered normal feeding with consequent poor weight gain and diminished health status.

Impact to humans: The public health implications is an area that is further being explored.

Your feedback on this subject is welcome (send us your feedback through our Contact Page )

The video clip originally appeared on the Kenya NTV YouTube channel available at this:

Non-typhoidal Salmonella (NTS) in pigs in Busia, Nairobi and Malawi

Non-typhoidal Salmonella (NTS) in pigs in Busia, Nairobi and Malawi

This blog post was authored by Catherine Wilson an MRES Student from the University of Liverpool attached under our #ZooLink project

I am investigating the prevalence of Non-typhoidal Salmonella (NTS) in pigs in both Kenya and Malawi in extensive, low input production systems.  The aim is to determine whether invasive NTS are present in the pig population of three study areas; one rural and one urban area in Kenya and one rural region of Malawi. In sub-Saharan Africa, NTS is a leading cause of human mortality, particularly in the very young, old, malnourished, or those suffering from co-morbidities such as HIV or malaria.

Pig slaughter slab in Bumala

Pig slaughter slab in Bumala

An invasive NTS serovar has been found to be able to cause severe disease in chickens; suspicion is therefore arising that transmission between humans is not the sole route of spread of NTS, and that zoonotic transmission, especially from pigs, may have a role to play in the epidemiology of the disease. Should this invasive strain of bacteria be found in pigs, we will assess whether the same serovar clinically affects humans in the same geographical location, using data already gathered from human hospitals. A correlation between the two would indicate that zoonotic transmission may be occurring.

The final part of this study will assess the presence of drug resistance in the strains of NTS isolated from pigs, and whether this bears any correlation to a similar antimicrobial resistance pattern of NTS to that previously detected in humans in the same area.  Should antimicrobial resistance be detected, other management techniques for the swine, such alterations in husbandry and hygiene, may be trialed.  In the longer-term vaccination development may be a possibility as an important method of preventing zoonotic disease transmission in the study areas, for which research is currently in the very early stages.

For sampling,  both faecal and mesenteric lymph nodes samples were collected post mortem from 256 pigs in Busia and 304 pigs in Nairobi.  The location in which the pigs were reared, as well as details of signalment, any previous antibiotic treatment if known and the method of transport of the pig to the slaughterhouse, were recorded for each individual pig.

Samples were processed at the Busia Field Lab and ILRI laboratories respectively. Culture and serotyping was carried out to confirm the presence of Salmonella followed by antimicrobial susceptibility testing to a range of antibiotics.  Positive isolates have then been stored for transport to the UK, where whole genome sequencing will be undertaken to identify the presence of any antimicrobial resistance genes. Once the results have returned, analysis is planned compare antimicrobial resistance profiles of the pig samples to those of humans in the same geographical location, to assess whether zoonotic transmission may be occurring.

Sampling Kibera chickens-a look at urban farming in its most innovative form

Sampling Kibera chickens-a look at urban farming in its most innovative form

IMG_20160525_122708896Under the Urban Zoo umbrella, we have been sampling chicken farms as well as chicken    meat retailers in Kibera, Nairobi, in order to investigate the prevalence of a food-borne pathogen, Campylobacter. Kibera, said to be the largest urban slum in Africa, is a surprising, challenging and rewarding environment to work in. The constantly evolving environment illustrates urban farming in its most inventive form. Densely populated and very low-income, the urban landscape goes from shiny newly-built roads, public toilets and other community spaces, often sponsored by donors, to muddy alleyways with open sewers and precarious living spaces.

Livestock is part of everyday life. Goats roam everywhere – some even took a nap under our car – as well as chickens, ducks, and sometimes even camels. People are keen to discuss their farming arrangements and projects, or laugh at our interest for the local chickens (kienyeji kukus), which seem so uneventful to them. As sampling is ongoing, results for Campylobacter presence are not yet available. This bacteria, common in chickens, yet not harmful to them, can lead to severe diarrhoea in humans, especially children. Poultry in Kibera often sleep in houses; kids and chickens run alike in courtyards; we have found chicken-raising pens on a shelf, behind doors, above some roofs and in other unexpected places. With such a diverse interface between humans and chickens, it will be valuable to determine the presence of Campylobacter and better understand related public health risks.

Maud Carron

Article by Maud Carron


This blog entry is an article on our quarterly Urban Zoo Newsletter Volume 3 Issue 3 which can be accessed by clicking here.

Informal food vendors training

The food vendors training was held at Mlango Kubwa on 25th February, 2016 involving 30 plus food vendors carefully selected from thirteen villages in Mathare Valley in Kenya. The food vendors ranged from the ones who sell: meat products, vegetables, fruits, eggs, fish and the ones selling ready made food products.

The aim of the training was to enlighten and empower the participants with practical skills and knowledge on proper food, premise and attire hygiene, sanitation and safety issues.

Muungano wa Wanavijiji food security programme coordinators mobilized the participants while ILRI and APHRC facilitated the training. The activity was in response to vendors’ own requests for capacity-building and offered a crucial opportunity to support livelihoods and bolster community health across eight villages in Mathare.

The training was organised into five sessions:

  • Session 1: Introduced the participants to the Urban Zoo projects which seeks to understand how disease emerge in urban and peri-urban areas of Nairobi 
  • Session 2: Highlighted the relationship between germs and food safety. Participants were introduced to the adverse effects of germs to health, their portals of entry and that proper hand washing, food preparation and hygiene can prevent most food-borne diseases. This session concluded by demystifying the various myths and truths about food.
  • Session 3: Participants were introduced to common food-borne symptoms and how proper PPE, hygiene and sanitation of food, body, containers, clothes and towels prevents most of the food-borne infections. A practical session on how germs spread was also demonstrated using drinking chocolate powder and proper hand washing demonstrated using the Glo-germ.
  • Session 4: This session equipped participants with skills on proper premise hygiene, water treatment, storage of perishable food to avoid spoilage. Various modes of contamination and precautions to take when handling meat, eggs, vegetables, and fruits were also illustrated.
  • Session 5: The last session equipped and empowered participants on: ways and why they need to improve their product quality; why and how they need to deal with customers and suppliers; advised on promotional activities that they can engage in to improve their product sells; participants were also advised on the importance of innovation, diversification, standardization of recipes and processes.
  • Practical sessions: The training came to an end with further practical demonstrations on how to wash equipment, sukuma wiki (kales), and meat.

Click to view report


Training action photos [Click photo to enlarged image]

Hand hygiene demo

Meat hygiene demo

Hygiene of equipment demo

Hand hygiene demo using Glow-germ

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