Funding: Wellcome Trust
This project investigates haemorrhagic septicaemia (HS) of camels, a disease of unclear aetiology, which has a serious impact on pastoralist livelihoods. The dromedary camel (Camelus dromedarius) is the most important livestock species in terms of food security for a siginificant number of pastoralists living in the semi arid and arid lands of Northern Kenya (Wilson, 1984, Schwartz and Dioli, 1992). The camel is an essential partner for their livelihood and the main source of milk, especially during the dry season. Furthermore it provides them with meat, means of transport and plays an important role for the socio-cultural set up of the community (eg. payment of dowry, settlement of fines, recreational activities).
Haemorrhagic Septicaemia (HS) is a highly fatal disease caused by Pasteurella multocida Carter serotype B:2 and E:2 in bovines (Bastianello and Nesbit, 1994). In camels in Northern Kenya HS is known as “Khanid”, “Quarir”, “Quandich” or “Quandho”. During participatory assessments previously carried out, HS was ranked by the pastoralists in Wajir, Mandera, Isiolo and Marsabit Districts among the four most important health problems of the camels (Simpkin, 1985 and Glücks, VSF Suisse, Nairobi, 2006). In a recent study conducted in Lapur Division of Turkana District, HS was ranked as the fourth most important disease in camels (Mochabo et al., 2005). Outbreaks of this disease are frequent in these areas, especially during the rainy season and the mortality can reach up to 80%, affecting mainly the adult camels (Schwartz and Dioli, 1992). The impact of this great loss on the livelihood of the pastoralists is enormous.
Recent assessments carried out in the above mentioned areas indicated that there is a deep knowledge of the disease in the pastoralist community; however, it remains unused up to now. Vaccinations – with a bovine strain of P. multocida – are carried out by relief and development organisations but their effect has never been assessed. (Wernery and Kaaden, 2002). Furthermore, up to now, P. multocida Carter serotype B has been isolated once from affected camels, but its role as the causative agent for HS in camels remains unclear (Wernery and Kaaden, 2002).
Participatory epidemiology combined with new diagnostic tools (molecular identification of P. multocida and capsule typing by polymerase chain reaction) will be applied to investigate the epidemiology and aetiology of HS in camels in North Kenya. Recommendations on vaccine use and improved treatment protocols against HS in camels will be disseminated back to camel owners, veterinary auxiliaries and professionals and relevant organisations through field workshops, booklets and scientific publications.