Press Release WHO/21
6 February 1998
INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATION OF
RIFT VALLEY FEVER OUTBREAK
Teams from two more World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centres have arrived in Kenya to reinforce WHO's international efforts to determine the causes and extent of the outbreak of disease in northeastern Kenya and southern Somalia which has so far claimed approximately 400 lives in Kenya and 80 in southern Somalia.
Rift Valley fever has been determined to be the cause of death in approximately half of the deaths from haemorrhagic fever-like illness, but teams from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, USA and the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Johannesburg, South Africa, will now work with the Kenyan Ministry of Health, WHO, and another WHO Collaborating Centre, the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), to investigate other diseases as possible causes of the outbreak. These diseases are normally associated with flooding and include typhoid, dysentery and leptospirosis.
The new team members will be stationed at WHO's base camp for the northeastern region at Garissa and at the WHO office in Nairobi. Team members have brought additional laboratory supplies and reagents to strengthen laboratory testing capabilities in Nairobi.
Team members will stay in Kenya for up to one month, as needed. Co-sponsored by the Kenyan Ministry of Health, WHO is also organizing a conference for the control of Rift Valley fever in countries at risk, to be held in Nairobi in late February. In addition to Kenya and Somalia, other countries in the region may become affected by RVF as virus-infected eggs of floodwater-breeding mosquitos hatch. Representatives from countries in WHO's African and Eastern-Mediterranean regions in which RVF is endemic are expected to attend, as well as representatives from international and nongovernmental organizations.
The CDC team of six people is led by Dr C.J. Peters, Chief of the Special Pathogens Branch at CDC, and the five additional members consist of three physicians, one toxicologist and a logistician. The five-person NIV team is led by Dr Robert Swanepoel and the other team members are a veterinary scientist, a clinician, a microbiologist and an entomoligst.
Other organizations which have collaborated closely with WHO throughout the current outbreak include the Swiss Disaster Relief Agency (SDR), the European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training (EPIET), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the EPI Centre, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Médecins sans Frontières, Médecins du Monde and the African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF).
For further information, journalists can contact Philippe Stroot, Media Coordinator, WHO, Geneva, telephone (41 22) 791 2535. Fax (41 22) 791 4858. Strootp@who.ch
All 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/