WSU Economists Study Family Economic Health in East Africa

Tom Marsh and Jon Yoder talk about livestock diseases with
Moses Ole-Neselle, a current WSU graduate student in the Allen
School, and other Maasai on the Simanjiro Plains, Tanzania.

If cattle are your primary asset, losing one to disease can affect your entire family.  For the Maasai in east Africa, disease such as East Coast fever*, a leading cause of calf deaths, impacts a family’s health and children’s education.
WSU Economists, Tom Marsh and Jon Yoder , are conducting a pilot survey to learn how families make economic decisions when vaccines for cattle become more readily available.
"We are looking at how interventions such as vaccines can reduce livestock losses and improve family well-being," explains Dr. Jon Yoder, associate professor in the School of Economic Sciences, who lived in Tanzania as a child.
Understanding the decisions livestock-dependent families make and how they fare when vaccinations or improved treatment options are available are central questions in their research.
"Paying for their own health care or kid’s education is directly tied to the health of their animals," said Tom Marsh, professor in the School of Economic Sciences. "If cattle are healthy they can sell them to invest in other things that can economically benefit the family."
With help from Allen School collaborators and Kenyan research assistants, Marsh and Yoderare in the process of surveying 500 households to learn how families make economic decisions once cattle have received vaccines.  What they learn will help to improve animal health intervention strategies in East Africa.
To learn more, visit the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health website.

Tom Marsh (far right) visits a household
near Kajiado, Kenya.  East Coast fever
(ECF) is the major cause of calf deaths
among East African indigenous cattle.
The disease has serious economic impacts
for families in this region whose primary
asset is cattle.
* East Coast fever (ECF) is caused by the single-celled parasite Theileria parva, which is transmitted primarily by the tick (Rhipicephalus appendiculatus) as it feeds on susceptible cattle.  The disease has been controlled through acaricide treatment for tick management and herd selection of resistant animals.  Acaricide control, however, has become less viable due to the high cost of acaricide treatments, access to functional dipping facilities, and alternative tick hosts.  Environmental and sustainability issues are also important, including toxic residue contamination of the environment or food, and acaricide resistance. 

Other Allen School collaborators on the ECF project are Dr. Guy Palmer, director of the Allen School; Dr. Terry McElwain, professor and executive director of the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory  at WSU; and Jeff LaFrance , adjunct professor in the School of Economic Sciences.


To lend your support to these very important projects, consider a gift to the Allen School.

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