Rift Valley fever

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Rift Valley fever
Rift Valley fever tissue.jpg
TEM micrograph of tissue infected with Rift Valley fever virus
Classification and external resources
Specialty Infectious disease
ICD-10 A92.4
ICD-9-CM 066.3
DiseasesDB 31094
MeSH D012295

Rift Valley fever (RVF) is a viral disease that can cause mild to severe symptoms. The mild symptoms may include: fever, muscle pains, and headaches which often last for up to a week. The severe symptoms may include: loss of sight beginning three weeks after the infection, infections of the brain causing severe headaches and confusion, and bleeding together with liver problems which may occur within the first few days. Those who have bleeding have a chance of death as high as 50%.[1]

The disease is caused by the RVF virus, which is of the Phlebovirus type. It is spread by either touching infected animal blood, breathing in the air around an infected animal being butchered, drinking raw milk from an infected animal, or the bite of infected mosquitoes. Animals such as cows, sheep, goats, and camels may be affected. In these animals it is spread mostly by mosquitoes. It does not appear that one person can infect another person. The disease is diagnosed by finding antibodies against the virus or the virus itself in the blood.[1]

Prevention of the disease in humans is by vaccinating animals against the disease. This must be done before an outbreak occurs because if it is done during an outbreak it may worsen the situation. Stopping the movement of animals during an outbreak may also be useful. As may decreasing mosquito numbers and avoiding their bites. There is a human vaccine; however, as of 2010 it is not widely available. Once infected there is no specific treatment.[1]

Outbreaks of the disease have only occurred in Africa and Arabia. Outbreaks usually occur during periods of increased rain which increase the number of mosquitoes.[1] The disease was first reported among livestock in Rift Valley of Kenya in the early 1900s,[2] and the virus was first isolated in 1931.[1]

Signs and symptoms[edit]

In humans, the virus can cause several syndromes. Usually, sufferers have either no symptoms or only a mild illness with fever, headache, muscle pains, and liver abnormalities. In a small percentage of cases (< 2%), the illness can progress to hemorrhagic fever syndrome, meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the brain and tissues lining the brain), or affect the eye. Patients who become ill usually experience fever, generalised weakness, back pain, dizziness, and weight loss at the onset of the illness. Typically, people recover within two to seven days after onset.

About 1% of people with the disease die of it. In livestock, the fatality level is significantly higher. Pregnant livestock infected with RVF abort virtually 100% of foetuses. An epizootic (animal disease epidemic) of RVF is usually first indicated by a wave of unexplained abortions.

Other signs in livestock include vomiting and diarrhoea, respiratory disease, fever, lethargy, anorexia and sudden death in young animals.[3]



Rift Valley fever virus
Virus classification
Group: Group V ((-)ssRNA)
Order: Unassigned
Family: Bunyaviridae
Genus: Phlebovirus
Species: Rift Valley fever virus

The virus belongs to the Bunyavirus family. This is a family of enveloped negative single stranded RNA viruses. All Bunyaviruses have an outer lipid envelope with two glycoproteins—G(N) and G(C)—required for cell entry. They deliver their genome into the host-cell cytoplasm by fusing their envelope with an endosomal membrane.

The virus' G(C) protein has a class II membrane fusion protein architecture similar to that found in flaviviruses and alphaviruses.[4] This structural similarity suggests that there may be a common origin for these viral families.


The virus is transmitted through mosquito vectors, as well as through contact with the tissue of infected animals. Two species—Culex tritaeniorhynchus and Aedes vexans—are known to transmit the virus.[5] Other potential vectors include Aedes caspius, Culex pipiens, Culex antennatus, Culex perexiguus, Culex zombaensis and Culex quinquefasciatus.[6][7] Contact with infected tissue is considered to be the main source of human infections.[8] The virus has been isolated from two bat species: the Peter's epauletted fruit bat (Micropteropus pusillus) and the aba roundleaf bat (Hipposideros abae), which are believed to be reservoirs for the virus.[9]


Diagnosis relies on viral isolation from tissues, or serological testing with an ELISA.[3]


A vaccine has been conditionally approved for use in animals in the US.[10]


Distribution of Rift Valley fever in Africa: Blue, countries with endemic disease and substantial outbreaks of RVF; green, countries known to have some cases, periodic isolation of virus, or serologic evidence of RVF

RVF outbreaks occur across sub-Saharan Africa, with outbreaks occurring elsewhere infrequently. In Egypt in 1977–78, an estimated 200,000 people were infected and there were at least 594 deaths.[11] [12] In Kenya in 1998, the virus killed over 400 Kenyans. In September 2000, an outbreak was confirmed in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. On 19 October 2011, a case of Rift Valley fever contracted in Zimbabwe was reported in a Caucasian female traveler who returned to France after a 26-day stay in Marondera, Mashonaland East Province during July and August, 2011[13] but later classified as "not confirmed."[14]

2006/07 outbreak in Kenya and Somalia[edit]

In November 2006, a Rift Valley fever outbreak occurred in Kenya. The victims are from the North Eastern Province and Coast Province of Kenya, which had received heavy rain in recent months, causing floods and creating breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which spread the virus of the fever from infected livestock to humans.

By 7 January 2007, about 75 people had died and another 183 were infected.[15] The outbreak forced the closure of livestock markets in the North Eastern Province, affecting the economy of the region.[16]

The outbreak was subsequently reported to have moved into Maragua and Kirinyaga districts of Central Province of Kenya.[17]

On 20 January 2007, the outbreak was reported to have crossed into Somalia from Kenya and killed 14 people in the Lower Jubba region.[18]

As of 23 January 2007, cases had started to crop up at the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Businesses were suffering large losses, as customers were shunning the common meat joints for the popular nyama choma (roast meat), as it was believed to be spreading the fever.

In December 2006 and again in January 2007, Taiwan International Health Action (Taiwan IHA) began operating missions in Kenya [19] consisting of medical experts assisting in training laboratory and health facility personnel, and included donations of supplies, such as mosquito sprays. The United States Centers for Disease Control also set up an assistance mission and laboratory in Kenya.

By the end of January, 2007, some 148 people had died since the outbreak began in December.

As at 14 March 2007, the Kenyan government declared RVF as having diminished drastically after spending an estimated 2.5 million [clarification needed] in vaccine and deployment costs. It also lifted the ban on cattle movement in the affected areas.

As of 2 November 2007, 125 cases, including 60 deaths, had been reported from more than 10 localities of White Nile, Sinnar, and Gezira states in Sudan. Young adult males are predominantly affected. More than 25 human samples have been found positive for RVF by PCR or ELISA.[20]

2010 South Africa outbreak[edit]

As of 8 April 2010, the Ministry of Health South Africa had reported 87 human cases infected with Rift Valley fever (RVF), including two deaths in Free State, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape provinces.[21] Most of these cases reported direct contact with RVFV-infected livestock and or were linked to farms with confirmed animal cases of RVF. The human cases are: farmers, veterinarians and farm workers. All cases were confirmed with RVF by test conducted at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in Johannesburg, South Africa.

An ongoing outbreak of Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) infection is affecting sheep, goats, cattle and wildlife on farms within Free State, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Western Cape, Mpumalanga, North West, and Gauteng provinces. As of 29 March 2010, about 78 farms reported laboratory-confirmed animal cases, with extensive livestock deaths.

Outbreak investigations by the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries are ongoing, and are being supported by the South African Field Epidemiology and Training Programme and NICD. The Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture are taking measures to enhance disease surveillance among cattle and in managing the control of the disease outbreak.

Sporadic cases of RVFV infection in animals have been documented in South Africa in recent years. The last major outbreak of the disease in humans occurred between 1974 and 1976, where an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 cases were recorded.[22]

The disease claimed the life of Springbok rugby player Juan Smith's father Giel.[23]

Biological weapon[edit]

Rift Valley fever was one of more than a dozen agents that the United States researched as potential biological weapons before the nation suspended its biological weapons program in 1969 due to possible bomb threats that might cause a panic in the United States.[24][25]


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  2. ^ Palmer, S. R. (2011). Oxford textbook of zoonoses : biology, clinical practice, and public health control (2nd ed.). Oxford u.a.: Oxford Univ. Press. p. 423. ISBN 9780198570028. 
  3. ^ a b Rift Valley Fever reviewed and published by WikiVet, accessed 12 October 2011.
  4. ^ Dessau M, Modis Y (January 2013). "Crystal structure of glycoprotein C from Rift Valley fever virus". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 110 (5): 1696–701. doi:10.1073/pnas.1217780110. PMC 3562824. PMID 23319635. 
  5. ^ Jup, P. G.; Kemp, A.; Grobbelaar, A.; Lema, P.; Burt, F. J.; Alahmed, A. M.; Al Mujalli, D.; Al Khamees, M.; Swanepoel, R. (2002). "The 2000 epidemic of Rift Valley fever in Saudi Arabia: Mosquito vector studies". Medical and veterinary entomology 16 (3): 245–252. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2915.2002.00371.x. PMID 12243225. 
  6. ^ Turell, M. J.; Presley, S. M.; Gad, A. M.; Cope, S. E.; Dohm, D. J.; Morrill, J. C.; Arthur, R. R. (1996). "Vector competence of Egyptian mosquitoes for Rift Valley fever virus". The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 54 (2): 136–139. PMID 8619436. 
  7. ^ Turell, M. J.; Lee, J. S.; Richardson, J. H.; Sang, R. C.; Kioko, E. N.; Agawo, M. O.; Pecor, J.; O'Guinn, M. L. (2007). "Vector competence of Kenyan Culex zombaensis and Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes for Rift Valley fever virus". Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association 23 (4): 378–382. doi:10.2987/5645.1. PMID 18240513. 
  8. ^ Swanepoel, R.; Coetzer, J.A. (2004). "Rift Valley fever". In Coetzer, J.A.; Tustin, R.C. Infectious diseases of livestock (2nd ed.). Cape Town: Oxford University Press Southern Africa. pp. 1037–70. ISBN 0195761707. 
  9. ^ Boiro, I.; Konstaninov, O. K.; Numerov, A. D. (1987). "Isolation of Rift Valley Fever Virus from Bats in the Republic of Guinea". Bulletin de la Société de Pathologie Exotique et de ses Filiales (in French) 80 (1): 62–67. PMID 3607999. 
  10. ^ Ikegami, T; Hill, TE; Smith, JK; Zhang, L; Juelich, TL; Gong, B; Slack, OA; Ly, HJ; Lokugamage, N; Freiberg, AN (6 May 2015). "Rift Valley fever virus MP-12 vaccine is fully attenuated by a combination of partial attenuations in the S-, M- and L-segments.". Journal of Virology 89: 7262–76. doi:10.1128/JVI.00135-15. PMID 25948740. 
  11. ^ Arzt, J.; White, WR.; Thomsen, BV.; Brown, CC. (Jan 2010). "Agricultural diseases on the move early in the third millennium.". Vet Pathol 47 (1): 15–27. doi:10.1177/0300985809354350. PMID 20080480. 
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  13. ^ Vesin G (19 October 2011). "RIFT VALLEY FEVER, HUMAN—FRANCE: ex ZIMBABWE (MASHONALAND EAST) FIRST REPORT". ProMED mail. International Society for Infectious Diseases. 20111020.3132.  External link in |work= (help)
  14. ^ Grandadam M, Malvy D (29 November 2011). "RIFT VALLEY FEVER, HUMAN — FRANCE (02): ex ZIMBABWE (MASHONALAND EAST) NOT". ProMED mail. International Society for Infectious Diseases. 20111129.3486.  External link in |work= (help)
  15. ^ "At least 75 people die of Rift Valley Fever in Kenya". International Herald Tribune. 7 January 2007. 
  16. ^ "Kenya: Schools Disrupted As Deadly Fever Hits Incomes". IRIN. 11 January 2007. 
  17. ^ "Nairobi at risk of RVF infection". The Standard (Kenya). 22 January 2007. Archived from the original on June 20, 2015. 
  18. ^ "14 die after Rift Valley Fever breaks out in southern Somalia". Shabelle Media Network, Somalia. 20 January 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. 
  19. ^ Issue. Mofa.gov.tw (2012-04-02). Retrieved on 2014-05-12.
  20. ^ "Deadly fever spreads Kenya Panic". BBC. 26 January 2007. 
  21. ^ ProMED-mail. ProMED-mail. Retrieved on 2014-05-12.
  22. ^ "Rift Valley fever in South Africa". WHO. 
  23. ^ "Driven by desperation". SArugby. 
  24. ^ "Chemical and Biological Weapons: Possession and Programs Past and Present", James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Middlebury College, April 9, 2002, accessed November 14, 2008.
  25. ^ "Select Agents and Toxins" (PDF). USDA-APHIS and CDC: National Select Agent Registry. 2011-09-19. 

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