New partnership to combat African animal trypanosomiasis

FOUR global organisations have announced their partnership aimed at working on solutions to combat African animal trypanosomiasis (AAT).

According to a statement released by the Boehringer Ingelheim, the organisations include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK Government Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, Boehringer Ingelheim and GALVmed.

The partnership’s aspiration is to be able to launch a new solution for AAT before 2030.

The four organisations will conduct research and collaborate with other academic and international projects to promote and develop solutions to address AAT, the statement says.

Development of new veterinary products takes many years. It is a complex process and the partnership has much work to do before it can declare that it has a highly prospective new solution and what a likely launch date would be.

AAT is a disease of vertebrate animals affecting cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats, horses, pigs, dogs and other species.

AAT is caused by the protozoan parasites Trypanosoma congolense, Trypanosoma vivax and to a lesser extent, Trypanosoma brucei and is a major problem in Africa where it is mainly spread by tse-tse flies (Glossina spp.). Infection by Trypanosoma vivax also occurs in northern South America where it is transmitted by biting flies such as stable flies (Stomoxys) and horseflies (Tabanids) and it has more recently been reported in the Middle East.

Infectious parasites enter the bloodstream of the host animal and multiply causing fever, weakness, lethargy and anaemia which lead to weight loss, reduced fertility and milk production and may result in death.

In Africa, AAT is estimated to threaten more than 50 million cattle in known tse-tse endemic areas. However, as many as 90 million cattle are threatened if cattle outside the tse-tse belt—potentially at risk because of cattle movements, transhumance and mechanical transmission of T. vivax by biting flies—are also considered.

The  AAT is estimated to kill as many as three million cattle annually. Losses directly attributed to reduced meat and milk production as well as the cost of treatment and tse-tse control are estimated to be more than one billion US dollars  annually.

Losses in agricultural gross domestic product in all affected areas in Africa are believed to be around USD 4.5 billion annually.

Significant progress has been made in the control of African human trypanosomiasis which is targeted for elimination by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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