16 January 1998
SECOND TEAM DEPARTS FOR KENYA
TO INVESTIGATE AND CONTROL RIFT VALLEY FEVER OUTBREAK
The World Health Organization (WHO) has sent a second team to Kenya 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, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Médecins Sans Frontières and Epicentre (Paris), to further investigate the outbreak of Rift Valley fever (RVF) in north-eastern Kenya and develop control measures.
WHO has had a team working in Kenya since the outbreak was first announced. The second team arrived in Nairobi on Thursday, 15 January. This team, which consists of public health specialists in Rift Valley fever, will coordinate activities in Kenya in the health field, further assess the extent of the outbreak, strengthen control measures among humans and animals, and explore the feasibility of immunizing livestock to prevent further spread.
Specimens have been obtained from sick humans and animals at two different times by local WHO teams and these have been tested at the WHO Collaborating Centres at the National Institute of Virology, Johannesburg, South Africa, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, USA. The human tests indicate that at least 13 of the first 36 people examined were infected with the RVF virus and study of animal specimens has confirmed that animals are likewise infected.
Access to the outbreak area has been difficult due to the current floods 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. Estimates of human fatalities due to the current outbreak currently range as high as 450 and it is suspected that other diseases such as malaria, and possibly cholera, are also contributing to the high number of deaths.
For further information please contact Gregory Hartl, Health Communication and Public Relations, WHO, Geneva. Tel. (+41 22) 791 4458. Fax (+41 22) 791 4858. Emailhartlg@who.ch
WHO Press Releases, Fact Sheets and Features as well as other information on this subject can be obtained on Internet on the WHO home page http://www.who.ch