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This paper describes the methodology and some results obtained from an integrated assessment of smallholder dairy farms in Kiambu District Kenya, using the agro-ecosystem health approach. Participatory techniques, soft system methods, complex system theory and convectional research are used in combination. The approach is holistic, multidisciplinary and iterative. It involves designing, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the development processes. The aim is to make smallholder dairy farms sustainable. A sustainable agricultural system is one in which resource management is optimized to satisfy changing human needs while maintaining or enhancing the quality of the environment and its capacity. The approach applies the agro-ecosystems concepts of health developed both in veterinary and human health. Screening diagnosis and remediation of ecosystems pathologies are carried out in methods analogous to those in individuals and populations.
Staal S, McDermott JJ, Kang'ethe EK, Arimi SM. "Analysis of milk-borne public health risks in milk markets in Kenya.". 2002. Abstract

The major role played by informal milk markets in Kenya and the benefits to those associated with it are now widely acknowledged. The benefits include higher prices for farmers, income generation for the market agents and convenient delivery and lower prices for poor consumers. However, in spite of these benefits, regulations governing informal marketing of milk continue to be unfavourable and do not reflect local realities of milk marketing, having been based on models derived from industrialised countries where virtually all milk destined for the market is pasteurised and packaged. Results of risk assessment, including HACCP analysis, of milk quality and handling practices of informal milk market agents and consumers in central and southern Kenya show variable apparent prevalence of zoonotic health hazards in marketed milk, high bacterial counts especially in outlets associated with longer market chains. Notably, the ineffectiveness of current regulations was reflected in the lack of difference in the quality of milk sold by licensed and non-licensed traders. The study shows that health risks from the bacterial hazards identified are mitigated by the common consumer practice of boiling milk before consumption. The most important health risks were judged to be from two main sources: (i) anti-microbial residues found in up to 15% of milk samples tested and (ii) consumption of naturally fermented milk. Proposals for management of these health risks and the engagement of stakeholders and key players in the process to achieve more favourable policy environment policy are presented and discussed.

Kang'ethe EK, Arimi SM, MacDermott JJ, Omore AO. "Analysis of Public Health Risks From Consumption of Informally Marketed Milk in Kenya.". 2004. Abstract

Despite an unfavorable policy environment against informal milk markets, these market account for most milk sales in Kenya. Convenient delivery and lower prices are the principal benefits for poor consumers. Current milk handling and safety regulations in Kenya are derived from models in industrialized countries. These may not be appropriate for local market conditions. An important step in targeting policies better is to collect quantitative and qualitative information about milk-borne health risk under different market situations. Preliminary results of assessments of milk quality and handling practices of informal milk market agents and consumers in central Kenya show very low apparent prevalence of zoonotic health hazards in milk from smallholder herds o[that contribute most marketed milk. Higher bacterial counts were associated with longer market chains and distance to urban areas. Most (up to 80%) of samples did not meet national bacterial quality standards. Over 96% of consumes boiled milk before consumption mainly to lengthen shelf life but also for health reasons. The most important health risks were judged to be from antimicrobial residues found in up to 16% of milk samples tested.

Ouma EA, Kang'ethe EK, Arimi SM, Staal S, McDermott JJ, Omore AO. "Analysis of public health risks from consumption of informally marketed milk in sub-Saharan African countries.". 2000. Abstract

Despite policies to discourage them, informal milk markets account for over 80% of milk sales in most sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. Informal milk market agents include farmer dairy co-operatives, small traders using bicycles and public or private transport and small retail outlets, such as dairy kiosks, and shops. Studies conducted by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and national collaborators (e.g., in Kenya1) show that convenient delivery and lower prices (reflecting lower handling and processing costs) are the principal benefits for consumers. Current milk handling and safety regulations in most SSA countries are derived from models in industrialised countries. These may not be appropriate for local market conditions where such regulations may unnecessarily inhibit efficient milk marketing. An important step in developing targeted policies more supportive of market participation of the majority is to collect quantitative and qualitative information about milk-borne health risks under different production and marketing situations. This paper gives an over-view of on-going activities in central Kenya aimed at assessing public health risks from informally marketed milk and presents preliminary results of milk quality and handling practices of informal milk market agents and consumers

A total of 55 cattle divided into two groups of experimentally (n=30) and naturally (n=25) infected animals were used to study the reliability of meat inspection methods in Kenya. Total dissection was used as the gold standard to indicate absence or presence of bovine cysticercosis infection in cattle. The level of agreement between the two methods was on average lower in naturally infected animals than in artificially infected calves. This was because in natural infections, there was more light infections than in experimentally infections and these could not be detected in meat inspection method. The results further confirm that in spite of the time and effort taken by meat inspectors in looking for cysticerci at predilection sites, this method is very insensitive. It was therefore recommended that more parts of the carcass not naturally inspected according to the Kenya Meat Control Act (cap 356 of 1977) for bovine cysticercosis such as the lungs, hind legs, ribs and liver need to be considered as possible and equally important predilection sites and larger areas of these predilection sites should be examined. However, other better sensitive ante-mortem diagnostic methods should be developed to assist in the integrated management of the infection.
Onono JO, Kangethe EK, Ogara WO. "Antimicrobial susceptibility of non-sorbitol fermenting Escherichia coli isolated from cattle feaces and milk samples.". 2010. Abstract

The objective was to determine the antimicrobial susceptibility of the non-sorbitol fermenting Escherichia coli colonies from cattle feaces and milk samples collected from Dagoretti division in Nairobi. A total of 285 feacal and 260 milk were collected from urban dairy farming households while non-dairy households provided 137 milk samples. The samples were used for culture and isolation of E. coli and the colonies isolated using standard microbiological methods. 23% (66) and 8.8% (23) of feacal and milk samples from urban dairy farming households had non sorbitol fermenting colonies, while 8.8% (12) of non-dairy farming household neighbours had non sorbitol fermenting colonies in milk samples. Antibiotic susceptibility patterns showed that isolates of E. coli were resistant to various antibiotics. There was a high percentage resistance to sulphamethoxazole in feacal samples isolates (14.4%), milk sample isolates (10%) from dairy farming household and milk sample isolates (11.7%) nondairy households. The feacal isolates had a low resistance to ampicilin (1.4%), but the resistance in isolates from milk samples of urban dairy household (6.5%) and non-dairy household’s milk samples (7.3%) were high. The other antibiotics showed varied resistance pattern with feacal isolates having a high percentage resistance to tetracyclines (6.7%) while most bacterial isolates were susceptible to gentamicin. Multiple antibiotic resistances was observed in feacal sample isolates (6.7%), dairy farming household milk isolates (4.2%) and non- dairy farming household milk isolates (7.3%). Non-sorbitol fermenting E. coli colonies from cattle feaces and milk samples were resistant to most of the antibiotics tested and the higher percentage resistance to sulphamethoxazole, ampicilin and tetracyclines requires further investigation to isolate, identify and compare the genes responsible for development of resistance.


Existing physicochemical analytical methods for the determination of aflatoxins in animal tissues are expensive, cumbersome, and hazardous. To offer an alternative to these methods, a novel and highly sensitive immunochemical method for the rapid detection of aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) in chicken liver tissues is described in this study. Liver tissues were homogenized with cold methanol-acetone (50:50), followed by AFB1 extraction with methanol-acetone-PBS (25:25:50). The tissue extracts were, with or without further purification by immunoaffinity chromatography (IAC), applied to a highly sensitive direct ELISA for determination of AFB1. The detection limits for this assay were 15 +/- 0.77 pg/mL when standards and samples were dissolved in methanol-PBS (10:90) and 17 +/- 2.0 pg/mL when methanol-acetone-PBS (5:5:90) solution was used. The average recoveries of AFB1 were 54.3 to 65.5% in artificially contaminated tissue samples at 1 to 5 ng/g. In samples spiked with AFB1 at 1 ng/g, the method had diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of 100% for samples processed with IAC and 91.7 and 100%, respectively, for samples without IAC purification. The test was successfully applied to the detection of AFB1 in liver tissues from chickens that were experimentally dosed with AFB1. It is hoped that this test will be applicable in rapid detection of aflatoxins in poultry meats and in diagnosis of aflatoxicosis in chicken.

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