Makerere University lecturer develops tick vaccine
Dr. Margaret Saimo Kahwa, a veterinary doctor at Makerere University, has made a mark in the world of Science.
Dr. Saimo has developed an anti-tick vaccine to address the problem of ticks resistance to acaricides -the chemicals used to spray against ticks, a factor upsetting the $27billion (Shs. 99 trillion), worth livestock sector in the country.
“The vaccine will be given twice a year for good protection but we will boost its efficacy over time so that a farmer can administer only once a year. The cost is around 3,000 shillings per dose,” she stated.
Ticks that are burdening animal farms across the country “have developed super resistance to almost all the available 21 acaricides”, with western Uganda being the most affected, according to a 2017 study by National Drug Authority and Makerere University.
More than 2 million households in the country depend on livestock as a source of livelihood. There are more than 11 million heads of cattle in the country, according to statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics.
Dr. Saimo says they got the knowledge about the vaccine from their counterparts in Cuba where it has been used for more than 30 years to cleanse the animals of ticks’ infestation. The expert developed the vaccine from proteins found in ticks that are attacking the animals in the country.
“The protein is in the ticks that are found around the country. You use a system in the laboratory to multiply the protein artificially, the same way some scientists can produce meat in the laboratory,” the expert reveals.
The protein is then purified using special equipment and tested to ensure purity before attempting to use it. She said the vaccine has no negative effects on the meat, its quality, and safety to consumers.