Cattle vaccination can increase family wealth, girls’ education

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Washington, Dec 15 (IANS) Families that vaccinate their cattle against East Coast fever are likely to report higher incomes and spend the additional money on food and education, says a study of households in rural Africa.

Researchers also found that when fewer cattle died from the fever, girls were more likely to attend secondary school.

The findings suggest that investing money in cattle vaccination has wider societal implications.

“When households vaccinate, it increases their wealth and income and sets them on a trajectory to provide education for their children,” said lead author Tom Marsh, Professor at Washington State University in the US.

“Vaccinating is a way for households to pull themselves out of poverty,” Marsh noted.

Published in the journal Science Advances, the study found that vaccinating increased a household’s income because fewer cattle died and disease free cattle produced more milk to feed the family or to be sold in the marketplace.

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Households also saved money because vaccinated cattle did not need as many antibiotic treatments or to be sprayed as often for ticks, which spread the disease.

Caused by the parasite Theileria parva, East Coast fever is spread from diseased cattle to healthy cattle through tick bites. The disease can spread quickly and infect cattle throughout the community.

East Coast fever is one of the most devastating cattle diseases and it is the leading cause of calf death in east Africa.

“If organisations are going to invest more money on vaccines, then besides the known effects — such as fewer cattle deaths — we need to understand the indirect effects,” Marsh said.

“Developing better vaccines and easier ways to distribute them could have broad societal effects,” Marsh noted.

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