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Economists help fight endemic foot-and-mouth disease in East African cattle

Head shot of Bastola in maroon shirt.
Umesh Bastola

In developing countries around the world, foot-and-mouth disease, or FMD, devastates cattle herds and causes more than $2 billion in nutritional and economic insecurity every year.

Herds are particularly vulnerable in East Africa, where researchers Umesh Bastola, a recent doctoral graduate of the School of Economic Sciences, and Thomas Marsh, joint professor in Economic Sciences and the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, are part of an international effort seeking solutions to frequent outbreaks harming the herds that rural residents depend on to survive.

In Nature Ecology and Evolution, Bastola and Marsh joined colleagues from the University of Glasgow and WSU Global Health Tanzania to present findings identifying economic impacts from FMD on household wellbeing, showing that FMD outbreaks in East Africa are not caused by frequent transmission from wildlife, but rather are limited to specific virus types that spread through the domestic cattle population.

These findings suggest that, in contrast to building ecologically destructive fences to separate wildlife and livestock, FMD control programs involving targeted vaccination of cattle could be effective in eastern Africa.

  • Read the full story on the multi-disciplinary effort here.
  • Read a Nature Ecology and Evolution commentary on the research here.

    Several cattle walk in a dry, hilly field.
    Cattle graze in East Africa, where herds are vulnerable to foot-and-mouth disease. Researches in the School of Economic Sciences are part of an international effort seeking solutions to frequent outbreaks.