Rift Valley fever outbreak reported in Sudan

Goat receiving medical care
Goat receiving medical care

Albert Gonzalez Farran, UNAMID / Flickr cc

The World Health Organization (WHO) today detailed a Rift Valley fever (RVF) outbreak affecting six states in Sudan, which follows heavy rains and flash flooding in August that affected nearly all of the country.

The mosquito-borne disease mainly affects livestock, but the virus can spread to humans through contact with blood, organs, or milk from infected animals.

Heavy rains on Aug 13 amplified mosquito populations, and the outbreak in humans began on Sep 19, the WHO said. As of Nov 11, officials have reported 293 suspected cases, 11 of them fatal.

Two heavily affected states

Most of the cases have been reported in Red Sea and River Nile states in northeastern Sudan, with other reported from Kassala, White Nile, Khartoum, and Al Qadarif states.

Of 19 samples from sick patients that were tested, 9 were positive for RVF. Samples from Red Sea state were tested for malaria and were negative.

Patients had high fever, joint pain, and vomiting, but health providers saw no hemorrhagic symptoms. People ages 15 to 45 have been hardest hit, with males more affected than females and a high proportion of infections in farmers.

The WHO said the human cases are occurring alongside abortions and deaths in goats in areas where the suspected and confirmed human cases have been reported.

On the animal fronts, reports from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) on Oct 13 and Nov 3 described RVF outbreaks in goats in Red Sea state and in goats and sheep in River Nile state.

Possible economic, disease impacts

The WHO said RVF is endemic in Sudan, which experienced human outbreaks in 1973, 1976, and 2008. The event in 2008 led to 747 lab-confirmed cases, 230 of them fatal.

The WHO warned that uncontrolled animal movements in and outside of Sudan poses a risk of RVF spread to new areas.

Also, it said urgent help is needed, because livestock exports are one of the country's major income sources and because the outbreak is occurring against the backdrop of political unrest and a debilitated health system.

See also:

Nov 14 WHO statement

Oct 13 OIE report on RVF in Sudan

Nov 3 OIE report on RVF in Sudan

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