Rift Valley fever outbreaks forecasting models
Joint FAO - WHO experts consultation, Rome, Italy, 29 September-1October 2008
Rift Valley fever (RVF) is a mosquito-borne viral zoonosis that primarily affects animals but also has the capacity to infect humans. RVF outbreaks in eastern Africa are closely associated with periods of heavy rainfall and RVF forecasting models and early warning systems have been developed to enable national authorities to implement measures to avert impending outbreaks. Despite these precautions a series of RVF outbreaks from 2006 to 2008 dramatically affected countries in Africa, the Sudan and islands in the Indian Ocean.
Based on practical considerations experienced during 2006–2008 RVF outbreak control operations, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have developed a common strategy for RVF outbreaks, from forecasting to response. FAO and WHO are currently defining joint guidelines for countries, to provide a framework for a coordinated and integrated prevention and control strategy, before, during and after RVF outbreaks.
To further this effort, FAO and WHO invited a group of experts on RVF modelling and forecasting to a two-day Rift Valley fever outbreak forecasting models workshop to share feedback from the 2006–2008 outbreaks, share experiences, identify gaps and explore potential improvements in RVF outbreak models. The objectives of the workshop were to review the natural history of RVF, review the forecasting models and risk distribution maps available and being developed, and propose how these tools might be improved.
This meeting report presents a summary of the presentations of different RVF forecasting models and RVF outbreak risk mapping strategies with possible improvements identified by the speakers, the main points of discussion and the concluding recommendations.