In northeastern Kenya, vaccinations have begun to try to stop the spread of Rift Valley Fever among livestock. South Africa is reported to have sent as many as 450-thousand doses of the vaccine. The disease has also taken a toll on the human population – with more than 200 cases reported and as many as 80 deaths.
Peter Roeder is an animal control officer for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. He was part of the mission to deal with the last outbreak in Kenya in 1997. From Rome, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the current outbreak.
“What we’re looking at is a complete recapitulation of what happened in 1997/98. Although of course it does depend on whether the rainfall continues and whether the inundation continues.” That’s needed for widespread mosquito reproduction.
“We can anticipate I think further emergence of areas in which there is Rift Valley Fever occurring in animals and people over the next month or so, couple of months probably. With hopefully some action being taken to try to limit the spread of the virus. But again, as in 1997/98, we’re a bit late getting started, ” he says.
He says the signs of Rift Valley Fever among animals are unmistakable.
“We’re probably too late in many areas to actually do anything to avoid the massive abortion storms, which are occurring and which will occur. This virus infects livestock and the effects are it kills young animals and it produces abortions in pregnant animals. You don’t get much actual disease in older animals. They don’t show clinical signs of disease…but they do suffer abortions. And so the commonest sign that you have Rift Valley Fever actually active in an area is that you get abortions storms. Herds of animals, which are pregnant, aborting,” he says.