WHO: Rift Valley Fever still a threat in East Africa

Saturday July 21 2018

Cases of Rift Valley Fever, which affects animals and humans, have been reported in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NMG


East Africa is not out of the woods from the Rift Valley Fever after the World Health Organisation reported cases of the virus in Uganda and Rwanda.

“In Uganda, the outbreak is occurring at the same time as in Kenya. Rwanda is experiencing an epizootic, with suspected human cases,” said WHO in its latest weekly outbreak report.

Already, Uganda has deployed a rapid response team to the affected districts and established an isolation unit at Mbarara Regional Hospital as the main treatment centre while preparing district hospitals to handle suspected cases.

In Rwanda, the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources confirmed cases of RVF among cattle after samples were tested at the Rwanda Agriculture Board laboratory. South Sudan reported an outbreak of RVF in March and is currently containing the situation.

Kenya, on the other hand, has lifted a ban on consumption of milk and meat, which had been imposed following an outbreak of the virus in May, which killed at least 26 people.

Ministry officials said no new case had been reported and that they had successfully carried out a 13-day vaccination exercise in affected areas.


At least 300,000 animals were vaccinated.

Heavy rainfall

The region had been experiencing heavy rainfall, which increases the chances of the outbreak — a mosquito-borne disease caused by a virus that infects both animals and humans and can result in death.

The virus spreads when people and animals are bitten by an infected mosquito.

According to the World Health Organisation, RVF infections occur when people come into contact with infected animals’ blood, secretions or tissue.

This can happen when animals are slaughtered, when they’re being helped to give birth, during veterinary procedures or when food is being prepared.

In the past outbreak in Kenya in 2006, more than 150 people died and another 700 were hospitalised in the North Eastern part of the country.

In Tanzania, an RVF outbreak was reported in 2007, where at least 16 people were reported dead and another 79 infected.

Tanzania is currently on high alert due to the outbreak in other East African countries.

According to WHO, outbreaks of the virus in Africa are associated with periods of above-average rainfall.