Mzansi’s pig veterinarians showed up and showed out at the recent International Pig Vet Society Congress (IPVS) 2022 in Rio De Janeiro in Brazil. Afrivet, South Africa’s leading animal health company, sent a delegation of eight of the country’s key pig veterinarians to attend the five-day event.
Unpacking their work on neurocysticercosis (NCC), the presentation by Afrivet’s Dr Caryn Shacklock was one of the biggest standouts at the event. The presentation included in the Food Safety and Parasites Session, showcased the work done during a year-long NCC pilot vaccination study involving free-ranging pigs in the Keiskammahoek region in the Eastern Cape.
“In 2021, Afrivet initiated and funded a pilot intervention project to tackle cysticercosis and NCC in an Eastern Cape village, with the recommendation that the region’s state veterinary services continue with the protocol in the long term,” says Shacklock.
The pilot kicked off in June 2021 in the Upper Gxulu community, with a team made up of Afrivet representatives, the state veterinarian, animal health technicians from the local state vet office, and community members.
Pilot of critical importance to human health
NCC is a serious human neurological disease caused by the tapeworm, Taenia Solium. The tapeworm, which is transferred to human beings either through the ingestion of its eggs from undercooked pig meat or faecal particles, can affect the nervous system, resulting in epilepsy in children and adults.
The disease is widespread in the Eastern Cape, which is why the vaccination pilot was of critical importance in the area. The pilot team had identified a free-ranging pig population in the area and administered doses of the Cysvax and Paranthic vaccines throughout the course of the pilot.
“Between 4% and 10% of the pig population that was subjected to lingual or meat inspection was positive for cysticercosis (cysts caused by the Taenia solium tapeworm). It can be concluded that T. solium is a problem in the pigs in this community,” says Shacklock.
At the conclusion of the pilot, the vaccinated pigs showed a marked reduction in cysts. This reduction is a clear indicator that the vaccines administered during the pilot were effective, and that it has the potential to positively impact human health.
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