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FAO compiles past, ongoing and future projects on Rift Valley fever and its vectors

06 June 2014 - FAO has compiled and categorized past, ongoing and future projects on Rift Valley fever (RVF) and the involved vectors into one database. This will enable researchers, veterinary and public health services as well as policy makers to quickly find information about the different research areas, partners involved, scope of work, time span and geographical coverage. Open access to such information will help in the planning of future projects allowing identifying possible partners and knowledge gaps, while avoiding duplications. The project compilation was carried out within the framework of the Vmerge project, “Emerging, Viral Vector-Borne Diseases”, a research consortium funded under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) of the European Commission from 2013-2017, that focuses on viral vector-borne diseases in Europe, the Mediterranean region and West Africa.

RVF can affect both ruminants and humans. Rift valley fever virus (RVFV) can be transmitted through several mosquito species and by contact, direct or through air particles (aerosols), with infectious animal material, e.g. body fluids and organs. The impact of RVF on local livelihoods (socio-economic) and trade (restrictions) can be high. The disease was first identified in Kenya’s Rift Valley in 1931. Since then, RVF exists in the larger part of sub-Saharan Africa, including western Africa and Madagascar, but occurs foremost in eastern and southern Africa where sheep and cattle are raised. In 2000, the first outbreaks outside Africa in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, raised concerns that RVFV might extend to other regions.

The epidemiology of RVF is complex given its vector-borne nature. The dominant vector species varies between different regions and different species can play different roles in sustaining the transmission of the virus. Infected mosquito eggs can survive for several years in dry conditions. When heavy rainfall causes flooding of the soils that contain them, the eggs will hatch, leading to a sudden boom in the mosquito population that will infect the animals they feed on, including humans. This explains how the virus can remain present, but silent, in areas that thus should still be considered endemic. When infected animals introduce the virus into areas with vector presence, epizootics and associated human epidemics can occur in previously unaffected areas.

There are many projects studying RVFV, its vectors and epidemiology and the means to prevent and control the spread. They focus on early warning (through RVF forecasting models), surveillance, vector control, animal immunization, raising awareness, and more. Overlaps in topics, research methods, partners, timing and target region unavoidably exist. An overview of these projects accessible to all researchers involved, will allow planning future projects based on what was already done and found, how, when and by whom, before. It will also help creating new multidisciplinary partnerships.

The compiled projects are the result of thorough searches on Google, Google Scholar, Science Direct and Medline, as well as in FAO's project documents. The focus of attention lies on projects from around the year 2000 until the planned future ones. The Vmerge consortium and external RVF experts reviewed and added to the preliminary compilation.

The project mapping is presented in the form of an Excel file with projects classified by category in separate spreadsheets. The first spreadsheet (KEY) contains an overview of all categories; one can navigate to these category sheets via direct links provided in the KEY. The final spreadsheet (TOTAL) is an overview of all the projects contained in all category spreadsheets. We recommend using the Find function <ctrl+f> to search the sheets by keyword and terms. The project mapping file will be placed on the FAO website and is also accessible through the Vmerge website.

This is a dynamic file that FAO intends to update regularly (also after the end of the Vmerge project) by sharing it with the RVF community. If you find any project missing or have comments, please contact us through the e-mail address you can find in the file, providing us with the link to the project website and/or with the information to fill the fields.

For more information on Vmerge see EMPRES news or the Vmerge website. For more information on the project mapping, see the link to the RVF Project mapping file.


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