Marek’s Disease Spreading in Ethiopia


Farmers request Respence Vaccine to stop chicken disease

Poultry farmers are concerned about the prevalence of Marek’s Virus which kills and weakens the immune system of chickens.

Farmers are asking the government to provide a better vaccine for the disease. Currently the government provides HVT vaccine but famers say this vaccine is not having enough impact in stopping the spread of the illness. Instead, they hope  the government will import the Respence  Vaccine which  has been shown to be proactive in reducing the impact of the virus.

According to the Ethiopian Poultry Producers Association (EPPA) over 70,000 birds were killed by the disease last fiscal year. The closeness of chicken houses, poor chicken farm sanitation,  low regulation in controlling disease all are contributing to the problem.

The National Veterinary Institute counters that the disease is not that serious and they are  working to develop a vaccine for it.

Dr Esyayas Gelaye, Institute Research Director said, “We have developed a vaccine and we are checking its progress at various chicken farms and if it is effective we will produce more and provide it to farmers, according to our observations there is not a significant threat to poultry from the disease.”

However, Dr Demeke Wondemagne, who is the secretary of EPPA told Capital that more needs to be done to stop the virus before it dramatically impacts poultry production.

“We are receiving reports that many chickens are dying from Marek’s disease and we are worried about it. We have asked to the government to provide a better vaccine such as Respence and to address foreign exchange issues so that it becomes easy to import this vaccine from abroad,” he said.

Marek’s primarily affects chickens. They often experience paralysis of the legs, wings, and neck; cancerous tumors in the body, blindness, tumors or growths on the skin, general listlessness, wasting away, or poor health. When birds are not vaccinated they become infected with more potent versions of the disease.

Different strains are known to span the spectrum from low to high virulence. When the birds weren’t vaccinated, infection with highly virulent strains killed them so fast that they shed very little virus-orders of magnitude less than when they were infected with less virulent strains. But in vaccinated birds, the opposite was true: Those infected with the most virulent strains shed more virus than birds infected with the least virulent strain.

Ten years ago Gumboro Disease spread throughout poultry farms, which caused many to loose their livelihoods.  Currently over 1,000 farmers work in the poultry industry and most  of them  are in  Deberezieth.