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Published:January 26th, 2007 02:59 EST
Hemorrhagic Fever Now Spreads To Nairobi.

Hemorrhagic Fever Now Spreads To Nairobi.

By Juliet Maruru

 The Rift Valley Fever (RVF) has already claimed up to 84 lives in the past three months. RVF is an acute, fever-causing viral disease that affects domestic animals (such as cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, and camels) and humans. RVF is most commonly associated with mosquito-borne epidemics during years of unusually heavy rainfall.

One man has been confirmed to have died from the Rift Valley Fever at the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi. The man originally fell ill in Kerugoya District in Eastern Province of Kenya but was transferred to the KNH where doctors have set up an isolation ward.

The disease is caused by the RVF virus, a member of the genus Phlebovirus in the family Bunyaviridae. The disease was first reported among livestock by veterinary officers in Kenya in the early 1900s.

In 1997-98, there was a major outbreak in Kenya and Somalia. In September 2000, RVF was for the first time reported outside of the African Continent. Cases were confirmed in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. This virgin-soil epidemic in the Arabian Peninsula raises the threat of expansion into other parts of Asia and Europe.

During epizootics, people may become infected with RVF either from being bitten by infected mosquitoes, or through contact with the blood, other body fluids or organs of infected animals. Such contact may occur during the care or slaughtering of infected animals, or possibly from the ingestion of raw milk. The virus may infect humans through inoculation (e.g., if the skin is broken, or through a wound from an infected knife), or through inhalation as an aerosol. The aerosol (through air) mode of transmission has also led to infection in laboratory workers.

The Kenya Health Authority is warning against eating meat that is not well cooked, raw blood or unpasteurised milk. Anyone who exhibits any of the signs of the disease is to report at the nearest health centre for treatment.