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Concern over Rift Valley Fever

The latest outbreak of Rift Valley Fever, which started in northeastern Kenya in November 2006, has claimed the lives of almost 70 people. The epidemic has been triggered by extensive flooding in the region. Teams from Medicine Sans Frontiere (MSF) are working in Garissa, Ijara and Tano River providing information, trying to locate infected people and treating patients. Only about one percent of people contracting Rift Valley Fever develop the severe form of the disease, but about half of these die. People become infected either by being bitten by mosquitoes or through contact with the infected blood or possibly from the ingestion of raw milk.

RVF, a mosquito-borne viral disease, can also cause serious economic losses in livestock, particularly sheep and cattle, although other animals are also susceptible. A Nairobi-based FAO team of experts from the region are working with veterinarians in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, alongside WHO and international aid agencies, to draw up emergency preparedness and surveillance strategies. Current activities are also receiving technical support from the Crisis Management Centre (CMC) recently set up to co-ordinate rapid response to outbreaks of transboundary diseases, particularly those that are transmissible to humans.

Date published: January 2007

 

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