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OIE concerned about Rift Valley Fever outbreaks in Africa

The recent outbreak of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) in Kenya shows the devastating effects an uncontrolled zoonosis (animal disease transmissible to humans) can have on a country. Since the beginning of the outbreak in early December 2006, the disease has affected thousands of animals (bovine, sheep, goats and camels) and over 220 humans (World Health Organization data).

RVF is suspected to have killed over 100 people and puts the livestock of thousands more in jeopardy. The disease has the potential to quickly spread to Somalia , a war-torn country already dealing with humanitarian emergencies.

It also looms over other countries of the region, raising great concern a major sanitary crisis will extend to the Greater Horn of Africa.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) is following the situation. The Center for Disease Control (CDC), Collaborating Centre of the OIE for Public Veterinary Health, is closely involved in the support of national authorities dealing with this zoonotic crisis.

In light of this latest animal health emergency, the OIE is determined to pursue its initiative on the strengthening of veterinary services worldwide. The OIE reminds the international community that only efficient veterinary services can initiate the necessary early detection and rapid response mechanisms to emerging and reemerging animal disease outbreaks and thus prevent major sanitary crises.

RVF background information

RVF is an acute viral disease that can cause severe disease in domestic animals (such as buffalo, camels, cattle, goats and sheep) and in humans.

RVF is mainly found in countries of sub-Saharan Africa and in Madagascar .

Many different species of mosquitoes are vectors for the RVF virus and RVF is most commonly encountered during years of unusually heavy rainfall and subsequent flourishing of mosquito populations.

Humans are highly susceptible to the RVF virus and may become infected with RVF either by being bitten by infected mosquitoes, through contact with the blood, other body fluids or tissues of infected animals as well as c onsumption of uncooked meat and raw milk from infected animals. Humans working in slaughter facilities, laboratories or hospitals are at risk of acquiring infections.

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