As reported in the Daily Nation yesterday (24 Jun 2018), the toll of human deaths due to an outbreak of Rift Valley fever has risen to 26 in the past month. The Kenya Ministry of Health has provided 500,000 doses of Rift Valley fever vaccine to high-risk counties, including Tharaka-Nithi, Garissa, Tana River, Lamu, Garissa, Kajiado and Baringo.
The disease, which is mostly affecting young men, was first reported in Wajir County, with a sample sent to Kenya Medical Research Institute testing positive for the virus on 7 Jun 2018. The ministry has formed a team of experts to provide technical guidance to the affected counties, which occur largely in Kenya’s nomadic, hard-to-reach and insecurity-prone dryland regions, making it difficult to contain the disease.
Rift Valley fever is a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes that mainly affects livestock, in which it causes abortions, but people are also at risk of infection as a result of handling infected animals—either slaughtering them or assisting animals giving birth.
Residents of the affected countries are advised to use mosquito nets, to report cases of sick animals, and not to directly handle sick cattle or sheep or to slaughter them without consulting veterinary or public health officers.
Read the whole article by Angela Oketch: Ministry races to curb Rift Valley fever as death toll hits 26, Daily Nation, 24 Jun 2018.
As reported by Bernard Bett, a scientist with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), more suspected cases of Rift Valley fever in livestock were observed in several areas in the country where heavy rainfall and flooding occurred between March and June this year. During the same period, suspected cases of the disease were reported in livestock in Rwanda (Kayonza, Ngoma and Kirehe districts). And in March of this year, South Sudan experienced similar outbreaks in the Yirol East, Yirol West and Awerial counties of Eastern Lakes State.
The intervals between epidemic outbreaks of Rift Valley fever, unlike those of most other endemic diseases in this region, are prolonged—generally between 5 and 15 years. These long intervals of no disease occurrence tend to hamper efforts to control the disease when it does occur. First, levels of awareness and knowledge of the disease among livestock producers decline with time and new outbreaks often occur only after the response capacity has waned. Second, livestock producers and other actors along the livestock value chain typically have few incentives to implement livestock vaccination and other preventative measures during the long inter-epidemic periods, during which the risk of Rift Valley fever is generally perceived to be low and livestock farmers shift their attention to other pressing problems. Over the past 10 years, major Rift Valley fever vaccination campaigns have been deployed only as part of emergency response measures implemented to control a new outbreak. Rift Valley fever experts at ILRI and partner organizations think this is not an optimal strategy for managing the risk of new outbreaks.
With the support of the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), ILRI has developed two videos—one describing patterns of the occurrence of the disease along with clinical signs and symptoms of Rift Valley fever, and the other focusing on measures to control the disease.
The aim of these short and practical video productions is to improve knowledge of the disease and its control measures. To further encourage local communities to participate in surveillance and programs working to better prevent or control the disease, the videos have also been prepared in Swahili.
These videos are also available for sharing via smartphones.
The videos will be refined over time and we encourage viewers and users to provide us with their feedback. Please send your comments and suggestions to ILRI scientist Bernard Bett at b.bett [at] cigar.org.
About the author: Bernard Bett is a senior scientist in the Animal and Human Health program at ILRI interested in transmission dynamics of multiple infectious diseases as well as the effectiveness of their intervention measures.
Read the ILRI news as first reported on ILRI’s ILVAC blog: Introducing English and Swahili instructional videos on the patterns, signs, symptoms and control of Rift Valley fever, 25 Jun 2018.
Written by Bernard Bett
Several outbreaks of Rift Valley fever in livestock and people have occurred in eastern Africa over the last three months or so. In the first week of June 2018, local media reported at least five fatal human cases in Kenya’s northern Wajir County. More suspected cases in livestock were observed in several areas in the country where heavy rainfall and flooding occurred between March and June this year. During the same period, suspected cases of the disease were reported in livestock in Rwanda (Kayonza, Ngoma and Kirehe districts). And in March of this year, South Sudan experienced similar outbreaks in the Yirol East, Yirol West and Awerial counties of Eastern Lakes State.
The intervals between epidemic outbreaks of Rift Valley fever, unlike those of most other endemic diseases in this region, are prolonged—generally between 5 and 15 years. These long intervals of no disease occurrence tend…
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