Rift Valley Fever

Rift valley fever is a viral illness caused by the phlebovirus with symptoms of fever, body aches, fatigue, headache, and joint pain. In about 1% of the people it can progress to hepatitis, encephalitis, and hemorrhage.

Where does it occur?

It occurs primarily in Africa – Egypt, Senegal, Madagascar, Mauritania, Kenya, and Tanzania. It has also been reported in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

How is it transmitted?

It is transmitted primarily through the bite of mosquitoes, but can also be spread by cuts contaminated with infected animal tissue or by inhaling air contaminated with infected animal tissue (sheep).

Is it contagious from person to person?

It is not contagious from person to person.

What is the risk for travelers?

The risk to travelers is low,

How soon after exposure will I develop symptoms?

Symptoms usually develop 1-2 weeks after exposure.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Generally symptoms are flu like with fever, body aches, joint pain, fatigue and headache. Inflammation of the eye (red and swollen) and its blood vessels may result in loss of vision in approximately 10% of infected people. Rarely (1%) the infection can progress to hepatitis (jaundice, abdominal pain, nausea) encephalitis (confusion and irritability), as well as hemorrhage.

Are there any lab tests to diagnose the illness?

Antibody tests are available, but require special safety and hazard laboratories.

Is there any treatment?

There is no specific anti-viral medication that is available, treatment is supportive care directed at the symptoms.

What preventive measures can be taken?

An investigational vaccines has been developed but has not been approved by the FDA. Avoid mosquito bites by following insect safety guidelines and avoid contact with contaminated animal products.

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