Rift Valley Fever situation in Sudan could escalate
FAO offers assistance for developing a comprehensive control programme
23 November 2007, Rome – The spread of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) in Sudan could escalate in the coming weeks as millions of animals are moved around the country and the region for the Eid Al Idha Muslim holiday, to be celebrated around 20 December, FAO warned today.
RVF is a serious viral disease transmitted by mosquito bites. It affects sheep, goats, cattle, camels and people.
More than 160 people have died so far of the disease, mainly in White Nile, Sennar and Gazeera states, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The most rapid increase in human cases took place in Gazeera State.
The epidemiological situation of the disease in livestock is very complex and needs urgent monitoring, FAO said.
Clinical signs of the disease in livestock are often not immediately visible. However, there are strong indications that the virus is present in animals.
Farmers have informed a field mission that included FAO, WHO and national veterinarians, about animals showing typical RVF signs such as diarrhoea, nasal discharges and abortion. Serum samples of livestock tested by the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory in Khartoum were positive. These samples should be urgently sent to an international reference laboratory in South Africa for further testing.
FAO has offered to send a team of animal health experts to the Sudan for in-depth field investigations.
“We are ready to assist the veterinary authorities in developing a comprehensive monitoring and control programme,” said FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Joseph Domenech. “FAO could also assist in improving border quarantine and laboratory facilities for monitoring livestock exports.”
In response to recent RVF outbreaks, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have banned livestock imports from Sudan.
Integrated animal and public health disease control efforts should be focused on Gazeera State, where infection in humans is evolving rapidly, Domenech said. This would require the provision of insecticides and spraying equipment, protective clothing for people at risk, veterinary diagnostic kits and the development of a vaccination strategy. National and local authorities, including religious leaders, should also launch a massive awareness campaign to inform the public about RVF risks and reduce virus spread and transmission.
People become infected through mosquito bites or direct contact with infected meat and blood during the time of slaughter, or other biological material and body fluids. Uncooked milk of infected animals may also pose a risk.
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