NTV Kenya: High alert as case of Rift Valley Fever confirmed

The Ministry of Health has advised counties to be on high alert following a confirmed case of Rift Valley Fever disease in the country. In a circular to county health directors on January 24, the confirmed case was from an individual from Turbi, North Horr, Marsabit County.

“This outbreak is closely associated with the conclusion of the El Nino rains, leading to a surge in mosquito population and an increased transmission of vector-borne diseases,” Patrick Amoth, Director General for Health

“Therefore, the Director General for Health advises all counties to remain on high alert for the potential spread of RVF. The Ministry of Health is working closely with the Directorate of Veterinary Services to monitor the situation and will update you accordingly,” said DG Amoth.

Following this, Patrick Amoth, Director General for Health has called on all counties to be on high alert for the potential spread of the disease and to disseminate the knowledge to health facilities and reporting units.

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“Specifically, the county department of health should activate county-level multi-sectoral coordination mechanisms using the One Health approach, to guide preparedness and response efforts.

He has also called upon the public to protect themselves by ensuring that the meat they consume is inspected and to sleep under treated mosquito nets. Those experiencing fever have been urged to visit the nearest health facility for medical evaluation.

People who assist with animal births, those who dispose of carcasses and those who handle retained placentas, still or aborted animal births have also been encouraged to use protective equipment such as gowns and gloves.

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According to the World Health Organisation, the Rift Valley fever (RVF) is a viral zoonotic disease that primarily affects animals, yet with the potential to infect humans. It is mainly transmitted by mosquitoes and blood-feeding flies.

In humans, the spectrum of the disease spans from a mild flu-like ailment to severe hemorrhagic fever, which can prove fatal. Substantial economic losses can also occur when livestock contract the virus, as it results in high mortality rates in young animals and frequent abortions in pregnant females.

While some human infections stem from mosquito bites, the majority result from contact with the blood or organs of infected animals.

Occupations such as herding, farming, slaughterhouse work, and veterinary practices pose higher infection risks.

Consumption of unpasteurized or uncooked milk from infected animals can also lead to human infection.

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Human-to-human transmission of RVF has not been documented.

The incubation period for RVF varies from 2 to 6 days. In its mild form, infected individuals may exhibit no symptoms or experience a feverish syndrome with flu-like symptoms, muscle and joint pain, headache, neck stiffness, sensitivity to light, loss of appetite, and vomiting.

These early symptoms may be mistaken for meningitis. The duration of symptoms typically ranges between four and seven days.

During RVF outbreaks, close contact with animals and their body fluids poses the most significant risk.

Preventative measures include avoiding unsafe animal husbandry and slaughtering practices, maintaining good hygiene, and refraining from the unsafe consumption of fresh blood, raw milk, or animal tissue in affected regions.

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