1998 - Rift Valley fever in Kenya - Update
14 January 1998
Disease Outbreak Reported
Investigation of the specimens with ELISA test at the WHO Collaborating Centre at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta detected IgM antibody which indicates recent RVF infection in 13 of 36 cases. In addition to the 3 RVF virus isolates reported in the first week of January by the WHO Collaborating Centre at the National Institute of Virology, Johannesburg the virus has been isolated from another case tested in the first batch of 36 specimens and in 3 cases tested in a second batch which was received on 9 January. These results all concerned human cases affected by the outbreak which may have killed over 300 people and many animals in the Garissa District, North-Eastern Province, Kenya since early December. Laboratory investigations of specimens from animals are in progress in South Africa.
Access to the outbreak area has been difficult and the initial WHO investigation was unable to completely clarify the extent to which other causes have contributed to the high mortality among both humans and animals. WHO is sending a follow-on team to work with the national authorities and international agencies, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Médecins Sans Frontières, and Epicentre (Paris) to further investigate the outbreak and develop control measures. The main objectives are to coordinate activities, assess the extent of the outbreak and strengthen control measures among humans and animals and explore the feasibility of immunization of livestock.