HALI investigates circling disease: An emerging small ruminant disease threatening animal health and livelihoods.

A pastoralist carries a lamb as she herds her flock of sheep and goats. Many pastoralist households depend entirely upon livestock for their livelihoods. (Photo by Mwokozi Mwanzalila)

A pastoralist carries a lamb as she herds her flock of sheep and goats. Many pastoralist households depend entirely upon livestock for their livelihoods. (Photo by Mwokozi Mwanzalila)

Small ruminants including sheep and goats play important roles as sources of income and food in many households in developing countries. In rural Tanzanian villages bordering Ruaha National Park, the HALI team is investigating the occurrence of an emerging disease called kizunguzungu (in Swahili) or circling disease. Pastoralists have given the disease this name because infected animals show the unusual behavior of repeatedly turning in circles. The consequences of circling disease are very serious as animals typically stop eating and may die. The disease is negatively impacting pastoralist communities through lost income and nutrition.

A goat with sign of circling disease. Affected animals move in circles and their health can deteriorate leading to death (Photo by Alphonce Msigwa)

A goat with sign of circling disease. Affected animals move in circles and their health can deteriorate leading to death (Photo by Alphonce Msigwa)

With support from the Feed the Future Livestock and Climate Change Innovation Lab, the HALI team is collecting samples from affected and healthy sheep and goats to determine the cause of the condition and risk factors for animals becoming infected. The circling disease project is strengthening collaborations between HALI team, pastoralist communities, Tanzania Veterinary Laboratory Agency (TVLA), Southern Highlands Veterinary Investigation Center and village livestock extension officers. Stay tuned for more updates…

HALI researcher Alphonce Msigwa prepares to collect a blood sample from sheep. Looking on is a Laboratory technician from TVLA Mr. Abnery Mrema.  Blood and brain tissues are sent to Sokoine University of Agriculture for laboratory analysis. (Photo by Mwokozi Mwanzalila)

HALI researcher Alphonce Msigwa prepares to collect a blood sample from sheep. Looking on is a Laboratory technician from TVLA Mr. Abnery Mrema.  Blood and brain tissues are sent to Sokoine University of Agriculture for laboratory analysis. (Photo by Mwokozi Mwanzalila)