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Rift Valley fever

Rift Valley fever
Classification & external resources
TEM micrograph of tissue infected with Rift Valley fever virus
ICD-10 A92.4
ICD-9 066.3
Rift Valley Fever virus
Virus classification
Group: Group V ((-)ssRNA)
Family: Bunyaviridae
Genus: Phlebovirus
Species: Rift Valley Fever virus

Rift Valley Fever (RVF) is a viral zoonosis (affects primarily domestic livestock, but can be passed to humans) causing fever. It is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes. The disease is caused by the RVF virus, a member of the genus Phlebovirus (family Bunyaviridae). The disease was first reported among livestock in Kenya around 1915, but the virus was not isolated until 1931. RVF outbreaks occur across sub-Saharan Africa, with outbreaks occurring elsewhere infrequently (but sometimes severely - in Egypt in 1977-78, several million people were infected and thousands died during a violent epidemic. In Kenya in 1998, the virus claimed the lives of over 400 Kenyans. In September 2000 an outbreak was confirmed in Saudi Arabia and Yemen).

In humans the virus can cause several different syndromes. Usually sufferers have either no symptoms or only a mild illness with fever, headache, myalgia and liver abnormalities. In a small percentage of cases (< 2%) the illness can progress to hemorrhagic fever syndrome, meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the brain), or affecting the eye. Patients who become ill usually experience fever, generalized weakness, back pain, dizziness, and weight loss at the onset of the illness. Typically, patients recover within 2-7 days after onset.   Approximately 1% of human sufferers die of the disease. Amongst livestock the fatality level is significantly higher. In pregnant livestock infected with RVF there is the abortion of virtually 100% of fetuses. An epizootic (animal disease epidemic) of RVF is usually first indicated by a wave of unexplained abortions.

Animal vaccination

Several animal vaccines have been made to protect against RVF infection. The first one to be developed was a live vaccine. When administered to mice, the results were promising, this vaccine provided immunity for 3 years. However a problem was encountered: administration to pregnant ewes on many occasions led to abortion. From there on in, attenuated vaccines have been developed. Although they are protective, and do not cause adverse effects, this was only achieved after multiple inoculations. The fact that multiple doses were required could prove problematic especially in areas where RVF is endemic.

2006/07 outbreak in Kenya & Somalia

In November 2006, a Rift Valley fever outbreak occurred in Kenya. The victims are from the North Eastern Province and Coast Province of Kenya, which have received heavy rain in recent months, causing floods and creating breeding grounds for mosquitoes which spread the virus of the fever from infected livestock to humans.

As of 7 January 2007, about 75 people have died and another 183 infected. [1] The outbreak has forced the closure of livestock markets in the North Eastern Province, affecting the economy of the region.[2]

The outbreak was subsequently reported to have moved into Maragua and Kirinyaga districts of Central Province of Kenya.[3]

On 20 January 2007 the outbreak was reported to have crossed into Somalia from Kenya and killed 14 people in the Lower Jubba region.[4]

As of 23rd January 2007 cases had started to crop at the Kenyan capital Nairobi. An estimated large number of businesses were supposedly suffering large losses as customers were shunning the common meat joints for the popular Nyama Choma (Roast meat), as it was believed to be spreading the fever.

In December of 2006 and again in January of 2007, Taiwan International Health Action (TaiwanIHA) began operating missions in Kenya [1] consisting of medical experts assisting laboratory training and health facility personnel, and included donations of supplies such as mosquito sprays. The United States Centers for Disease Control has also set up an assistance mission and laboratory in Kenya.

By the end of January, 2007, some 148 people have died since the outbreak began in December.

As at 14 March 2007, the Kenyan government declared RVF as having diminished drastically after spending an estimated 2.5 Million in Vaccine and deployment costs, It also lifted the ban on cattle movement in the affected areas.

As of 2 November 2007, 125 cases including 60 deaths have been reported from more than 10 localities of White Nile, Sinnar, and Gezira states in Sudan. Young adult males are predominantly affected. More than 25 human samples have been found positive for RVF by PCR or ELISA.[5]


  1. ^ "At least 75 people die of Rift Valley Fever in Kenya", International Herald Tribune, 7 Jaunary 2007. 
  2. ^ "Kenya: Schools Disrupted As Deadly Fever Hits Incomes", IRIN, 11 January 2007. 
  3. ^ "Nairobi at risk of RVF infection", The Standard (Kenya), 22 January 2007. 
  4. ^ "14 die after Rift Valley Fever breaks out in southern Somalia", Shabelle Media Network, Somalia, 20 January 2007. 
  5. ^ "Deadly fever spreads Kenya Panic", BBC, 26 January 2007. 
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Rift_Valley_fever". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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