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Research Focus Areas

According to the Faculty of Veterinary Science’s strategic thrusts, the research carried out fall into the following thematic areas:
1. Diseases of animals with emphasis on livestock
2. Diseases of wildlife
3. Animal Production and improvements
4. Zoonoses and food safety
5. Ethno veterinary medicine and Biosciences

 

DESCRIPTION OF THE RESEARCH FOCUS AREA
1. Diseases of animals with emphasis on livestock
One of the major research thrusts for the Faculty of Veterinary Science is on diseases of animals, particularly focusing on livestock diseases of economic importance in rural communities in major domestic animals-wildlife-human interface areas of Zimbabwe. Since the creation of Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) in early 2000, there has been an increase in interaction between domestic animals and wildlife. The sharing of the same ecological systems has been considered to be a risk factor for sharing of pathogens and/or diseases between domestic animals and wildlife. Therefore, the research projects were developed to explore the role of the domestic animal-wildlife interface in amplification or dilution of pathogens and to establish the epidemiological factors that are involved in the maintenance of important animals diseases in complex socio-ecological systems of the domestic animals-wildlife-human interface areas. Some of the major diseases, parasites and pests that have been at the core of the Faculty research include; foot and mouth disease, brucellosis, Rift Valley fever, lumpy skin disease, bovine dermatophilosis (Senkobo), ticks and tick-borne diseases, and helminthes such as Haemonchus contortus and Fasciola gigantica. Following outbreaks of epizootic ulcerative syndrome (EUS) in finfish in major dams and river systems in Zimbabwe in recent years, research has also focused on establishing the epidemiological features of this economically important disease which has largely been regarded as exotic to the region.

Major Highlights of Research
• Infectious causes of infertility in ruminants
• Tick diversity and tick-borne diseases
• Foot and mouth disease at the interface
• Epidemiological features of Epizootic and ulcerative syndrome in fish
• Epidemiology of lumpy skin disease and bovine dermatophilosis
• Leptospirosis and characterisation of Leptospira interrogans in dogs
• Mechanisms underlying genetic resistance to Haemonchus contortus in Matabele goats
• DNA sequence analyses of Fasciola giganticaisolates from cattle


2. Diseases of wildlife
Anecdotal evidence indicated that the interface between domestic animals and wildlife is an important risk factor for multi-host diseases like anthrax. Given its economic importance both in livestock production and wildlife conservation, as well as its zoonotic significance, it is imperative to study the factors that are related to its epidemiology and ecology. This is critical for development of effective control strategies of anthrax.

Major Highlights of Research
• Epidemiology and ecology of Bacillus anthracis infections in wildlife and livestock in interface areas

 

3. Animal Production and improvements
The projects in this cluster are aimed at investigating the possible use of plants and forage legumes as feed supplements to mitigate the shortage of protein supplements to improve production of cattle, sheep and goats, especially in resource-poor communities in the country. The research has explored the potential use of invasive plants such as Lantana camara, which are largely regarded as poisonous plants,as potential feed supplements. Research have also investigated the nutritional content of forage legumes such as Desmodium uncinatum (Silverleaf desmodium), Mucunapruriens (velvet bean) and Vigna unguiculata (Cowpea) for potential use in formulating diets of dairy goats.

Major Highlights of Research
• Invasive plant species of savanna rangelands: Are they a threat or an opportunity?
• Efficiency of protein utilization of forage legumes for milk production in goats

 

4. Zoonoses and food safety
Zoonoses are diseases that are transmissible between animals and human beings; with over 60% of all human infections being zoonotic. In this category, the research has focused on the following diseases: brucellosis, bovine tuberculosis, rabies and bat-associated lyssa viruses such as the Duvenhage and Lagos bat viruses.

Major Highlights of Research
• Brucellosis and tuberculosis in animals and humans at a wildlife/domestic animal/human interface
• Zoonotic viruses of importance among bat populations and the risk factors involved

 

5. Ethno veterinary medicine and Biosciences
The projects are focused on the development of local or indigenous knowledge systems for the enhancement of public health and animal welfare. It was motivated by the realization thatconventional medicines though effective have often been ineffective mainly due to the emergence of antimicrobial resistance among pathogenic microorganisms. The projects have also sought to exploitinvasive plants likeLantana camara as potential antimicrobial agents.

Major Highlights of Research

• Pharmacological and phytochemical studies of some ethno veterinary medicinal plants
• Neuropharmacological effects of Boophone disticha crude extract in animal models
• Genetic variation of inflammation modulating cytokines in HIV and HIV related cardiovascular diseases
• Applications of osmometry and spectrophotometry in milk analysis
• Morphological, biochemical and behavioural effects of Boophone distichain neurodegenerative amnesia animal models

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