In Kenya, local media report the death toll from Rift Valley Fever in northeastern Kenya has reached 90, with nearly 250 cases in all. Mosquitoes spread the disease, which primarily affects animals. The worst hit areas are reported to be the Garissa, Wajir, Ijara and Tana River Districts.
Dr. Vincent Martin, veterinarian for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, has just returned to Rome from Kenya. From FAO headquarters he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the Rift Valley Fever outbreak.
“In Kenya, the situation has been quite worrying because we are facing a Rift Valley Fever epidemic, which is quite similar to the one that broke out in Kenya nine years ago. So when I was there I met the different key stakeholders and partners who are…trying to control the outbreak situation,” he says.
It’s unclear how many livestock have been infected. Martin says, “It’s very difficult to get figures on the number of animals affected, basically, because of the situation on the ground. The fact that all the areas, which were affected, were flooded, it was very difficult to access these places. And therefore the reports on suspected animals or abortions or deaths had difficulty getting back to the provincial level or the headquarters. And therefore that’s the main reason why we don’t have precise figures.”
The FAO is trying to strengthen surveillance by mobilizing teams to investigate reports of Rift Valley Fever in various areas. It’s also offering technical advice and training on how to identify the disease in its early stages.
Martin says while he didn’t see any animals being vaccinated, he believes thousands of doses from South Africa and the United States have arrived in pastoralist areas.