Surveillance of zoonoses in livestock and humans: experiences from AHITI interns cohort 5

Surveillance of zoonoses in livestock and humans: experiences from AHITI interns cohort 5

Our participation in the ZooLinK suite of projects will remain memorable. We have acquired sufficient knowledge and experience through the exposure given to us by ZooLinK staff and our participation in the target areas of the project. Since we joined the project on May 2018, we have rotated among the three functional units of the project, namely: (1) veterinary team who visit the livestock markets and slaughterhouses; (2) laboratory team and (3) clinicians team who visit the health centres. The following report will focus on the veterinary team. It describes the activities carried out therein and their relevance to the project.

Two of the interns working in the laboratory (foreground)

A normal ZooLinK day begins with packing the field car with the required consumables a day before the field. Such consumables include; red and purple topped vacutainers, nasal swabs, digital thermometer, heart girth measuring tape, ziplock bags, barcodes, consent forms, faecal pots, gloves, disinfectant, water, coveralls and gumboots etc.

“…our internship has equipped us with adequate disease surveillance skills in the animal field that will help us to extend the knowledge of disease control to farmers…”

In the field, the veterinary team splits into two groups; one group works at the livestock markets and the other at the slaughterhouse. Upon arrival, at the livestock market, the animal is randomly selected and the owner identified to seek consent for sampling the animal and to answer a few questions. If he/she agrees, he/she signs two consent forms one of which goes with the animal owner while the other one remains for ZooLinK records. Before sampling, the animal is humanely restrained to ensure the safety of the animal, handler and person collecting the samples. Physical examination begins before the actual sample collection. Which entails checking for any abnormal discharges from the mouth, eyes, genitals and nose. On the skin swellings and injuries are recorded when present. Nature of the ocular mucous membranes is assessed and recorded, the mouth is checked for any lesions and sores as well the ageing is done from the dentition. The pre-scapula lymph nodes are palpated on both sides to ascertain any enlargement. Lifting of the loose skin of the neck is done to test for skin elasticity. The body condition of the animal is cored in a scale of 1-5. The fleece condition is recorded as either rough or normal and a tape measure used to measure the heart-girth to estimate the weight of the animal. The temperature is taken per-rectal. After the physical examination, the actual collection of the samples begins. Blood is collected from the jugular vein into a red top vacutainer (plain blood) for serology and an EDTA-purple top vacutainer (uncoagulated blood) for parasitology and hematology.

One of the AHITI interns sampling blood from a sheep

Nasal swabs are used to collect swabs from the nose. Nasal swabs are later cultured in the lab and used to test for the presence of Staphylococcus aureus. Fresh faeces are collected per-rectal and placed into a faecal pot. The faecal sample is cultured in the lab to determine the presence of E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter. External parasites like ticks, lice etc. are also collected if encountered. The same procedure takes place in the slaughterhouses but in addition, post-motem lesions like cysts, flukes, are recorded and collected inclusive of mesenteric lymph nodes from the pigs.

We are glad to declare that our internship has equipped us with adequate disease surveillance skills in the animal field that will help us to extend the knowledge of disease control to farmers and other stakeholders back at home.

This article was authored by the cohort 5 interns from the Animal Health and Industry Training Institute (AHITI): Sarah Nyambura, John Parkasio and Silas Muriithi.

Surveillance of Zoonoses in livestock and humans: a note from the post-doc

Surveillance of Zoonoses in livestock and humans: a note from the post-doc

After many months of careful planning and preparation, the main ZooLinK surveillance project has set sail! We have been sampling in the twelve selected live-stock markets, four each in the counties of Busia, Bungoma and Kakamega. At each market, we are collecting data on, and biological samples from, up to ten randomly selected cattle and small ruminants. Sampling in livestock markets can be challenging as traders are busy people who want to sell their animals. Moreover, some shared with us the perception that having their animal sampled may send the wrong message to future buyers. We are reminded once again of the importance of engaging local stakeholders at an early stage to help explain the study purpose and facilitate study participation.

Public engagement session in one of our sampling sites

We then expanded our sampling by including cattle, small ruminants and pigs that are taken for slaughter at selected slaughterhouses and slaughter slabs in the surroundings of the included livestock markets. Concurrently, we are also sampling outpatients at the three County referral hospitals and other selected health centres in the study area. All collected biological samples are processed and tested for fifteen selected zoonotic diseases at our field lab in Busia. Some of the animal samples shall also be used for genetic studies to identify changes in breeds as farming systems intensify over time.

We are all looking forward to working and learning together during our ZooLinK journey!

This article was authored by Dr Laura Falzon who is the Post-doctoral scientist (surveillance component) in the ZooLinK suite of projects.

World Antibiotic Awareness Week: a look at Kenya

World Antibiotic Awareness Week: a look at Kenya

This article was authored by Eric Fevre (Twitter: @EricFevre)

On 14th November, the Kenya Veterinary Association (Twitter @KVANational) hosted a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) event at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Nairobi, Kenya.  The Faculty is a collaborator in many of the ZED group’s projects, and recently, we have been awarded funds to develop a joint programme, with a number of other partners, on Antimicrobial Resistance.  Thus, an AMR CPD event, part of #WAAW, was a good opportunity to talk to stakeholders.

The audience consisted of Veterinary Surgeons and Veterinary Paraprofessionals, medical practitioners, scientists, journalists, students and the lay public.  The combined professional experience in the auditorium with the use of antibiotics in the veterinary and medical sectors was enormous, and it was an honour to represent the livestock research agenda at such a gathering, on behalf of both the International Livestock Research Institute and the Institute of Infection and Global Health, University of Liverpool.

The Kenya Medical Research Institute kicked off with an overview of the situation in Kenya – Kenya is far advanced compared with many countries in recognizing the AMR problem, and has, for example, just released its National Action Plan and National Policy (which can be downloaded by clicking here ).  None the less, there are clearly many evidence gaps.

MoALF, CS Dr Tuimur (far left) and Health CS Dr. Cleopa Mailu (immediate far left) launching the World Antibiotic Resistance Awareness Week and Kenya AMR National Action Plan and National Policy

The Food and Agriculture Organization, represented by ex-ILRI Graduate Fellow Stella Kiambi, presented the wider policy view and the FAO approach to AMR.  The National Action Plan itself was presented by the Department of Veterinary Services, followed by two Ministry of Health presentations on the public health impacts of AMR and antimicrobial stewardship.  The NGO World Animal Protection then highlighted the issue from the animal perspective, focused on the impacts of growth promoters and housing on animal welfare. Eric Fèvre then presented a livestock research agenda on AMR in the country, focusing his presentation on the evidence needs for implementing policy on AMR.

This was a very interdisciplinary meeting, co-ordinated and managed by the Kenya Veterinary Association who demonstrably want to play their part in working towards better management and use of antimicrobials, especially in the veterinary sector.  The energy around this issue in Kenya is clear, and there are many opportunities for collaboration and research to provide policymakers with the solid evidence required to implement Kenya’s new National Action Plan.

International One Health Day

International One Health Day, 2017

This blog entry was authored by Matthew Baylis, Principal Investigator-HORN Project

November 3rd is International One Health Day. One Health is the idea that the health of people, animals, plants and the environment are interlinked, and that health will be optimised by different disciplines (such as medicine, veterinary science, social science, economics, environmental science) working together rather than independently. It goes to the heart of multidisciplinarity in science, with large gains to be made by bringing together experts who may approach the similar problems with different skill sets and approaches.

Community members at the Mara being trained about holistic land management to optimize livestock productivity with minimal environmental impact by trainers from the Savory Institute; Photo credit: ZED Group

There are innumerable examples of advances in human medicine that have led to improvements in animal health – as just one example, some of the biggest equipment in the University of Liverpool’s animal clinics (such as MRI scanners) come from human hospitals.  But there are also many examples of veterinary medicine leading to improvements in human health or medicine.  In the UK, we are now safe to eat raw or undercooked eggs owing to a major programme to eliminate salmonellosis from the layer industry. The incidence of human rabies in much of East Africa has declined, owing to vaccination not of people, but of dogs.  My favourite example relates to transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. In the early 1960s members of the Foré tribe in Papua New Guinea were dying from a novel disease called Kuru (related to variant CJD). An American medic attempted transmission experiments with chimps that were not successful, leading to the conclusion that the disease was of genetic origin. The medic spoke on this in the UK and, in the audience, was a veterinarian.  The vet recognised that the characteristics of Kuru seemed identical to that of a sheep disease called scrapie, which had been shown to be transmissible. He alerted the medic, who repeated the experiments, this time successfully, and went on to get the Nobel Prize for Physiology (the medic, not the vet, of course).

A boy keenly reading a vaccination certification after his dog had been vaccinated against rabies; Photo credit: Rabies Free Kenya

Find out more about International One Health Day here:

The University of Liverpool is a big player in the area of One Health. We have had a string of large projects in the area of zoonotic diseases and food systems which contribute significantly to non-communicable diseases. Most recently, we have been given a large RCUK-funded Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Growing Research Capability (GROW) award called One Health Regional Network for the Horn of Africa (HORN), which aims to strengthen institutions and train researchers and support staff in areas relevant to One Health in 4 countries of the Horn of Africa: Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia. It is early days, but you can follow progress here:

The One Health Regional Network Logo

Follow us on Twitter: @OneHealthHORN to get our One Health Day updates at the top of every hour today.

Our website, (coming soon!)


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:

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