An RVF contingency plan should be a well-articulated strategy document designed to define actions to be taken in the event of an RVF emergency. It should contain details of the resources needed to meet such an emergency as well as an action plan for efficient and rapid deployment of both human and material resources for effective containment of the disease and elimination of infection. While it is not feasible to produce a model contingency plan that will be a perfect fit for all situations and circumstances in different countries, the suggested format and contents as described below will serve as guidelines for individual countries to design their own national RVF contingency plans. Suggestions for aspects to be included in a national RVF contingency plan are given below.
This component should describe the essential features of RVF such as:
Most of these aspects, as described in the manual, are generic; others may need to be modified to reflect the prevailing circumstances in individual countries.
This provides information on just how serious a threat RVF is for a country in comparison with other transboundary animal diseases, where and how RVF might be present, and what its potential consequences are. Risk analysis should indicate just how much effort needs to be put into contingency planning and it should also provide the rationale for the disease control strategies selected.
Risk analyses need to be updated regularly to take account of changing circumstances, both within and outside the country.
In the enzootic areas of Africa, RVF virus activity occurs in a cryptic manner at a low level most years. No clinical disease would be identifiable at such times, but low-level sero-conversion rates may be detected in the susceptible species and random isolates may be made from mosquitoes. Better baseline data are required for many countries in Africa to understand where and at what level this activity occurs. Research in eastern and southern Africa has shown that clinical disease only occurs in certain ecological zones.
In countries beyond the enzootic areas of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, prevention strategies should describe the measures to be taken in order to minimize the risk of introduction and establishment of RVF in the country or in RVF-free areas of the country, taking into account the assessed risks of introduction and the available strategies for reducing these risks by the control of transboundary livestock movements and management of the importation of animal products.
This includes all the initiatives that need to be taken to ensure both that an incursion of RVF can be recognized and reacted to before it reaches epidemic proportions in the country and also for monitoring the progress of eradication campaigns. The plan will include disease surveillance and epidemiological capabilities such as emergency disease reporting mechanisms and animal health information systems; training of animal health staff in recognition of the disease; and public awareness programmes.
There is scientific evidence that RVF virus activity at epizootic levels is likely to occur after the heavy cycles of rainfall that lead to flooding of grasslands and river floodplains. This is correlated in those parts of Africa where it has been investigated. Currently available remote sensing satellite information systems allow much improved predictive capability by measuring southern ocean temperature oscillations. Early warning is now a realistic possibility for RVF epizootics and monitoring will be a fundamental component of the plan.
This component addresses the issues of control of RVF epizootics in enzootic/epizootic areas of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. It includes the strategies and programmes that need to be implemented first to contain an RVF epidemic outside known epizootic areas and then progressively to control and eradicate it through zoning, quarantine, livestock movement controls and targeted vaccination campaigns - in a way that minimizes the socio-economic consequences. It also describes how eradication of the disease is to be verified.
The administrative structures of national veterinary services, which have evolved mainly to deal with routine animal health programmes, are not necessarily appropriate for emergency disease control. This component describes the organizational arrangements to be put in place when there is an RVF emergency so that all necessary resources are efficiently exploited to respond to the emergency. These arrangements will vary according to the infrastructure, capability of the veterinary services and bureaucratic arrangements of the country concerned.
Support plans underpin the technical plans. They include financial and resource plans and legislation. They are of vital importance and are a key to the success or failure of an eradication campaign.
These are the mechanisms whereby the various phases of the plan are implemented, from the initial investigation phase to the final stand-down phase.
A list of names and contact addresses including telephone numbers, fax and e-mail addresses of the following could be placed as appendixes to the contingency plan:
Also included may be information on:
It should be emphasized yet again that the following chapters only provide the framework for countries to develop their own RVF contingency plans, taking their particular circumstances into account. The strategies of different countries for countering RVF will vary considerably according to their veterinary and other infrastructure capacity, the stage of development of their livestock industries, and their potential for export of livestock and livestock products.