Tackling drug resistant nontyphoidal Salmonella in Kenyan poultry farms

June 06, 2019
Baby chickens
© Worldbank

Poultry farming represents approximately 30% of Kenya’s total agricultural contribution to the Gross Domestic Product. An estimated 75% of rural families keep chickens, with an average of 13 birds per household. However, infectious diseases associated with poultry farming and egg production pose high risks to the poultry industry and to the health of farmers and consumers.

Nontyphoidal Salmonella is a major cause of foodborne infections around the world. In low-income countries, it can evolve into a life-threatening form of the disease in humans. In sub-Saharan Africa, invasive nontyphoidal Salmonella infection is estimated to cause 3.4 million illnesses resulting in almost 700,000 deaths per year. Salmonellosis is listed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as one of two of the most important bacterial diseases affecting chicken health and productivity in Kenya.

Challenges with current practices

Antibiotics are extensively used in poultry farms to treat Salmonella infections and to improve growth rates and the feed efficiency of chickens. An estimated 75% of antibiotics administered are released into the environment, contributing to the emergence of antimicrobial resistance. Antimicrobial resistance is a growing concern in Salmonella and poses increasing threats to both poultry and humans. Alternatives to antibiotics are urgently needed.

Expected results

This project will investigate bacteriophage-based solutions (a bacteriophage is a virus that infects and replicates within bacteria) to kill Salmonella strains isolated from poultry farms in Kenya. The research team expects to develop a phage delivery system to improve protection against Salmonella strains isolated from Kenya. New commercial alternatives to antibiotics that could be adapted and accepted by the Kenyan poultry industry will be developed for the prevention and control of infections.

Lead institutions

This project is a collaboration between Université Laval in Canada and the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya.

•  Duration: 33 months

•  Budget: CA$2,909,200