IAEA’s support helps Eritrea to controlling Brucellosis and Tuberculosis in Cattle

The IAEA started to support the veterinary services of Eritrea in the late 1990s when the country requested help with their rinderpest eradication programme. The IAEA provided technical assistance in the setting-up of a diagnostic laboratory and the training of staff to allow for the sero-monitoring and sero-surveillance of animal diseases with specific reference to rinderpest. This long-term investment by the Agency was crucial in attaining “Freedom from Infection” status for Eritrea in 2005 (one of the first to do so in Africa). This initial cooperation was expanded into several Technical Cooperation Projects (TCP) in the field of animal disease diagnosis and control.

After setting-up the institutional capacity in support of the national disease control programme, the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) needed for the effective control of some of the major animal diseases such as Foot-and Mouth Disease (FMD), Rift valley fever and CBPP were established based on ISO17015 criteria. The nuclear and nuclear related serological platform was recently expanded to also include a molecular diagnostic capability through several fellowship training programmes and expert missions.

IAEA’s support helps Eritrea to controlling Brucellosis and Tuberculosis in Cattle The IAEA’s support enhanced the national animal disease diagnostic and surveillance capacity and improved the epidemiological knowledge of major livestock diseases that occur in the country. The ultra sensitive and specific PCR analysis allows for the rapid diagnosis and the generation of up-to-date information on disease occurrence. The support from IAEA came at the right time and complemented and synergized the support from the African Development Bank and other donors financing livestock development projects in Eritrea. The international donor support to establish the diagnostic laboratory (with regards to infrastructure and equipment) was supplemented by the IAEA’s projects that were addressing specific and highly focussed needs based on outcomes (such as the declaration of the freedom of rinderpest).

An IAEA TCP, initiated in 2007, with the objective to establish a thorough understanding of the epidemiological picture of the prevalence of both tuberculosis (TB) and brucellosis in Eretria will ensure that the local people have more access to safe milk products. In parallel, baseline data on veterinary drug residues in milk and meat products are collected to establish their potential risk to national and international consumers. The setting-up of a national project coordination committee, which meets on a regular basis, helped to implement and keep track of the TB and brucellosis control programme and its outputs.

IAEA’s support helps Eritrea to controlling Brucellosis and Tuberculosis in Cattle In 2008, the identification and registration of all dairy cattle was completed with more than 20,000 cross-bred and selected local dairy cattle breeds registered and ear-tagged. Following registration, screening tests for brucellosis and TB were initiated. Testing has almost been completed in all the major dairy producing areas.

Throughout the five Regions of Eritrea, 11,185 tests were carried out for bovine TB with 1,323 positive animals (12%) and 473 inconclusive (4%). In some of the Regions, confirmed positive reactors have been removed from herds voluntarily. A total of 7,979 cattle were tested for bovine brucellosis out of which 230 or 2.9% were positive and those have been removed from the herds. In the Anseba Region where disease incidence is very low, stock owners are already voluntarily culling reactor animals. Legal veterinary provision is already in place prohibiting the sale of milk from TB and brucella infected herds. It is envisaged to bring TB and brucellosis incidence to less than 1% from commercial milk producers by 2013. Follow-up testing is in progress in the last two Regions of Central (Maekel) and Southern (Debub) which are the two most important Regions as far as dairy production is concerned and the majority of dairy cattle are located there. Testing is expected to be completed by the end of 2009. Testing for bovine TB and brucellosis on such a scale - covering the whole national dairy herd in the country, was the first of its kind.

Fellowship training on the project was awarded in Epidemiology, quality control and serology. Three project staff members have already undergone training and are now effectively supporting the project.

The IAEA’s support to the veterinary services of Eritrea continues on surveillance and control of the major epizootics and an ongoing project on food and feed residue analysis is under implementation. As CBPP and PPR are again expanding in Africa, the sero-surveillance activities will include these diseases in future and enhance the control of FMD and TB in all cattle.