Camel sudden death syndrome

Current and historical perspective of camel sudden death outbreak in Kenyahas shown a familiar trend where a camel disease of unknown etiology is unexpectedly claiming through death unprecedentedly high number of camels that are thought to be of good health. Whereas it is all obvious that the cause of disease is unknown it is also challenging to note that there lacks also a good epidemiological evidence of the disease even after experiencing disease in previous reported outbreaks.

The first wave of camel sudden death outbreak was experienced in 2005 starting in Ethiopia in 2005 followed by Somalia in 2006 and Kenya in 2007. Mainly adult camels were reported to be dropping dead without any prior symptoms. Following the reports various surveys were carried with FAO supporting investigation of the disease in Kenya. The results of the investigation then in all countries experiencing outbreaks were inconclusive. Parasites such as Haemonchus, Trypanosoma, tapeworm and round worm were found as well as suspected cases of clostridia,enterotoxaemia, diarrhea and dehydration. However histological examinations, revealed a lymphocytic myocarditis in most the dead camels. The researchers could not isolate any particular virus, however they did not rule out the involvement of a viral agent.


The current wave camel sudden death outbreak was experienced as from third quarter of 2015 to early 2016 with an unusual high number (up to 500) of camel deaths being reported by herders fromWajir South, North-Horr and Moyale sub counties in Marsabit, Takaba and Banisa sub counties in Mandera. The herders have beencounting loses following an outbreak of this mysterious disease that is killing their camels.

The camels are observed to be in good body shape before they suddenly become weak and die. InWajir County, report indicate only adult lactating and in-calf camels were mostly affected, while in Mandera it was reported that the affected camels were of age between 2-5 years. In Marsabit County, camels of all age groups and sex were affected.

Objectives of the study

Overall goal….

To identify the causative agent of camel sudden death and define factors that affects and determine the distribution and dynamics of the disease in camels so as to improve surveillance and control strategies and eventual elimination of the disease in high risk pastoral areas of Kenya

Specific objectives

  1. To establish the socio-economic importance of the camel in the pastoral communities in 4 counties of Isiolo, Marsabit, Mandera and Wajir
  2. Determine the epidemiology of the camel sudden death in the project counties
  3. Establish the camel sudden death disease syndrome causative agents, disease pathogenesis and pathology.
  4. Develop policy recommendation on surveillance and control strategies and eventual elimination of the disease in high risk pastoral areas of Kenya

Immediate Communication is investigating the causes and effective treatment of this problem  using questionnaires, focus group discussions, laboratory analysis and data analysis