Emergencies preparedness, response

Saudi Arabia and Yemen: First cases of Rift Valley fever reported outside Africa, 2000

The emergence of Rift Valley fever in Yemen and in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in September 2000, led to 1 328 human cases including 166 human deaths and 20 000 abortions in livestock in Yemen and 882 human cases including 124 deaths in the KSA. In Yemen, the outbreak was located in the area of Wadi Mawr, on a coastal plain that extends from the southern tip of Yemen into the Jizan area of Saudi Arabia. The Rift Valley fever outbreak in KSA was described in the Jizan area. Both countries organized national efforts to limit the spread of disease, provide treatment to those affected and track the course of the outbreak. WHO provided support with experts in virology, epidemiology, laboratory diagnostics and entomology.

To control the outbreak, the governments carried out intensive vector-control measures, restricted animal movements, ran education campaigns to prevent exposure to infected animals and upgraded local hospitals to provide treatment to patients. Saudi Arabia and Yemen worked together to share information, including investigation protocols and coordinated logistics across the border.

See reports in Disease Outbreak News and the Weekly Epidemiological Record.