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Rift Valley fever
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Rift Valley fever

Last update: 2022-06-07

Key facts

Transmission

  • Direct or indirect contact with the blood or organs of infected animals, including inhalation
  • Mosquito bite
  • Eating or drinking the unpasteurized (unheated) or uncooked milk of infected animals

Symptoms

  • Starts with fever, headache, joint and muscle pain.
  • Sometimes neck stiffness, sensitivity to light, and diarrhoea.
  • Can cause changes in eyesight and sometimes permanent loss of eyesight.
  • Some patients suffer from loss of memory, hallucinations or delusions, confusion, dizziness, seizures, and tiredness and may become unconscious.
  • The most severe form includes a rash, yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), and bleeding from nose and inside mouth.

Prevention

  • Animal vaccination
  • Restrict or ban the movement of livestock
  • Handle and slaughter animals safely (for example, practise hand hygiene, and wear gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment)
  • Cook animal products thoroughly (meat, milk, blood)
  • Control vectors (larval and adult mosquitoes)
  • Protect against mosquito bites (use a bed net, wear long sleeves and trousers, apply repellents, etc.)
  • Wash hands with soap
  • Employ social mobilization and behaviour change communication
  • Keep animals under disease surveillance

Vulnerable people

  • Mostly people who are in contact with the blood or organs of infected animals (eg herders, farmers, slaughterhouse workers, and veterinarians)

If an epidemic occurs

  • Detect sick people rapidly and refer them to health facilities
  • Increase social mobilization and behaviour change communication
  • Advise people how to slaughter animals safely
  • Advise people how to handle sick animals safely
  • Safely disinfect and dispose of animal carcasses and aborted foetuses
  • Restrict or ban the movement of livestock
  • Make sure people cook animal products thoroughly (meat, milk, blood)
  • Promote handwashing with soap
  • Control vectors (larval and adult mosquitoes)
  • Promote protection from mosquito bites (use a bed net, wear long sleeves and trousers, apply repellents, etc.)
  • Keep animals under disease surveillance
  • Give psychosocial support

Community-based assessment - questions

Make a map of the community and mark the information you gather on the map. Record other details.

  • When did people start to fall sick with Rift Valley fever?
  • How many people have fallen sick with Rift Valley fever? Where?
  • How many have died? Where?
  • How many people live in the affected community or area? How many children under five years of age live in the area?
  • Who and where are the vulnerable people?
  • Who is most affected by Rift Valley fever?
  • Are areas or markets with animals known to be infected by Rift Valley fever? Where are they?
  • What are the community’s habits, practices and beliefs about handling and slaughtering animals, especially sick or dead animals?
  • Do people cook milk and meat thoroughly before eating them?
  • Are there handwashing facilities in the community, at animal markets or other areas where livestock gather? Are soap and water always available?
  • Have the authorities established a vector control programme?
  • What are the community’s habits, practices and beliefs about use of repellents, sprays, etc.
  • How many houses have insect screens on the windows and doors?
  • How many people sleep under a bed net at night? Are the nets hung up and maintained properly? If people do not use them, why not?
  • How does the community dispose of rubbish and solid waste?
  • Where are the local health facilities and services? (Include traditional and community carers from whom people seek advice.)
  • What are the community’s habits, practices and beliefs about caring for and feeding sick people?
  • Is a social mobilization or health promotion programme in place?
  • Which sources of information do people use most?
  • Are rumours or is misinformation about Rift Valley fever spreading in the community?