The Pitfalls of Humanitarian Livestock Vaccinations

Vaccinating goats against peste des petits ruminants in Kenya, 2013. ©ECHO/Martin Karimi

Vaccinating goats against peste des petits ruminants in Kenya, 2013.     ©ECHO/Martin Karimi

Livestock vaccination campaigns are often favorites of the humanitarian aid community because they engage a lot of local people, can spend large sums of money relatively quickly, and popular sentiment is that “you can’t go wrong with vaccinations, right?”

The answer, as with most things, is that you CAN go wrong with vaccinations if the specific circumstances are not carefully considered.

Mass vaccination of livestock is a potent tool in controlling and preventing diseases, safeguarding what in many societies comprises the most important single family resource. On the other hand, poorly thought-out campaigns may provide little benefit for animal owners. At worst, they can render animals even more vulnerable to disease.

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Bid to Eradicate 2nd Animal Disease: Goat Plague and Past Lessons

Sheep and Ankole cattle, Uganda Charles Hoots

Sheep and Ankole cattle, Uganda        Charles Hoots

As the world embarks on a quest to eradicate a second animal disease, peste des petits ruminants, lessons from the last successful eradication campaign will be invaluable. The stakes are high as the disease kills millions of sheep and goats, costing the world billions of dollars each year – and eradication campaigns are expensive. This post and the next look at several characteristics of this disease that make it a good candidate for such an effort.

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