An outbreak of Rift Valley Fever (RVF), a rare contagious hemorrhagic fever that usually affects only cattle, has killed 14 people in northeastern Kenya and southern Somalia - Health Officials said.
Medical experts have confirmed yesterday that RVF, which produces symptoms including bleeding through the nose and mouth, was the cause of the recent deaths.
"The dead are mainly livestock herders," Charles Nzioka, the head of Communicable Disease Control at the Ministry of Health, said on Friday in Nairobi. Four more people have been admitted at the Garissa Provincial Hospital's isolation unit - he added.
However, the number of persons affected could be higher "because the symptoms of fever, headache, and muscle pain are also common in other diseases such as flu and malaria," he said.
About RVF: RVF is endemic in Africa, naturally occurring in livestock but occasionally affecting humans. Animals are infected with the RVF virus by the Aedes mosquito.
The disease, characterized by bleeding from all orifices, is spread to humans in a number of ways: from infected mosquitoes; through contact with blood or other body fluids; or from the organs of infected animals.
RVF mainly occurs following periods of heavy rainfall or flood.
Vaccine: No vaccine is available currently for treating this viral disease in humans, although one available for animals.
Symptoms: Fever, general weakness and malaise, cough and diarrhea. Severe cases show facial swelling and bleeding from the orifices.
The incubation period (interval from infection to onset of symptoms) of RVF varies from two to six days.
Prevention: Wide scale insecticide spraying to reduce the numbers of mosquito breeding in the stagnate waters following the floods.
To conclude, the government has mobilized additional medical and veterinary personnel to the affected districts and is also involved in the distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito nets.