The action plan is a set of instructions covering most aspects of the controls to be implemented during an RVF emergency, from the first indication that there is high risk of an outbreak of the disease to the finalization of the control programme and resumption of livestock exports (if appropriate).
Since veterinary structures differ from country to country, this chapter provides only a guideline of the actions to be carried out during the phases of an RVF outbreak. Each country should develop its own action plan in which the responsible person or persons are clearly identified. Lines of communication between livestock owners and field and national veterinary services must be identified and made known to all parties. These communication lines underpin the command structure to be activated in the event of suspected RVF. The success of implementation of the action plan depends on each link in the command chain functioning as specified in the plan.
Countries that are deemed to be at high risk of RVF outbreaks (particularly those where the disease has previously occurred) should maintain a continual watch for epidemiological and climatic conditions that will give warning that an epizootic may be imminent, by:
The risk of an RVF epizootic may be of such a high magnitude as to warrant moving straight into the operational phase (see below). However, whenever there is warning of the increased likelihood of RVF occurring, the following actions need to be taken:
The alert phase commences when there is an actual field report of abortions and deaths in sheep, goats or cattle and/or illness in people suggestive of RVF. The immediate priorities are to secure a diagnosis and determine the extent of the infection. Actions to be taken include the following:
The operational phase may commence even before a definitive diagnosis of RVF is made. If it is forecast that there is a high risk of an imminent outbreak of the disease, serious consideration should be given to initiating vaccination and/or insect vector abatement programmes in high-risk areas.
When the disease is diagnosed, the operational phase should include the following actions:
When an RVF epizootic abates, emphasis should be given to helping affected livestock farming communities to recover and to initiate rehabilitation programmes that will enable them to "get on their feet again."
In the case of livestock-exporting countries, the emphasis should also be placed on undertaking detailed epidemiological studies to provide objective evidence that the RVF virus is no longer actively circulating in ruminant animal populations in either the whole country or in specific regions. This will provide the basis for lifting any international bans and for the resumption of vital exports.
Finally, the outbreak and control campaign should be reviewed in order to revise the RVF contingency plan where necessary.