Improving animal and human health via identification and characterization of diarrhoeal pathogens in ruminants in Ethiopia

Last changed: 03 May 2023
African goats

Ethiopia is a sub-Saharan country inhabited by about 100 million people with frequent occurrence of draughts. The country is believed to have the largest livestock population in Africa - 53 million cattle, 26 million sheep, and 22 million goats, which contribute immensely to the national economy and food security. However, the resource cannot be utilized efficiently due to many problems, among which a number of important diseases of ruminants that reduce their productivity are of paramount importance.

About one-half of all lambs born in the country die due to various causes. Annual mortality in all classes of stock averages 23% in the central highlands’ sheep. Diarrhoea is a commonly reported disease in young animal and a major cause of productivity and economic loss to cattle industry. The incidence of diarrhoea in calves under 30 days of age varies between 10% and 20%; the disease accounts for about 75% of all the mortality of dairy calves less than three weeks of age. It is obvious that various types of infectious agents, especially in young animals, cause severe diarrhoea that may lead to the death of these animals.

The overall purpose of this project is to determine what types of infectious agents, in particular viruses and bacteria, but also protozoa circulates in Ethiopia for the ultimate goal to put in suitable counter measures to prevent diarrhoea in young ruminant and improve animal health. This will lead to more food and improve human health, both directly and indirectly including the economy.

Our hypothesis is that several already known, or variants of known, pathogens cause the majority of the problems, but yet totally unknown may also contribute. We will investigate this using a metagenomic approach in combination with standard diagnostic methods to sort out this. Samples have been, and will continuously be collected, from sick animals and healthy, for comparison.

The project is sponsored via Swedish Research Council (2021-04343) and will go on till 2025.     


Julia Bergholm

Doctoral Student at the Department of Biomedical Science and Veterinary Public Health; Virology Unit


Mikael Berg

Professor at the Department of Biomedical Science and Veterinary Public Health; Virology Unit

Telephone: +4618672784