FAO assists Sudan in controlling Rift Valley Fever

13 November 2007, Rome – In response to Rift Valley Fever outbreaks in Sudan FAO has sent a senior animal health expert to advise the Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries on
prevention and control measures.

Rift Valley Fever (RVF) is a dangerous disease transmitted by mosquitoes and affects livestock and humans. People become infected through mosquito bites or direct contact with infected
biological material and liquids such as blood during slaughtering. Uncooked milk of infected animals may also pose a risk.

The Republic of Sudan has officially notified the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) about RVF in animals in White Nile State. The number of infected people is on the rise, according to
the World Health Organization (WHO), with more than 80 deaths reported.

RVF is usually already well-established in animal populations by the time the first human cases are observed. Hence, the control of RVF in livestock is very important.

“The source of RVF in animals needs to be identified and veterinary control measures put in place in order to reduce the public health risk, to limit the impact on livelihoods and to avoid
further spread”, said Joseph Domenech, Chief Veterinary Officer of FAO.

Veterinary services should assess the extent and the dynamics of outbreaks in ruminants, Domenech said. Locating infected animals and herds and disrupting virus transmission cycles through a
combination of control measures should be a priority. This should include the control of livestock movements, insecticide treatment of animals and the environment, and precautionary measures
during slaughtering, handling of carcasses and abortive material.

Targeted vaccination may help to protect ruminants in disease-free, high-risk areas such as wetlands, FAO said. Pregnant animals should not be vaccinated because of the risk of abortion.

FAO advised against the vaccination of already infected herds and areas. “Vaccination of infected herds arrives too late for controlling the disease and must be avoided as it may aggravate the
situation. The repeated use of needles and other equipment during vaccination campaigns could actually help to spread the disease from infected to healthy animals,” Domenech said.

Rift Valley Fever affects sheep, goats, cattle and camels and could have a devastating impact on trade and the rural economy.

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