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What is Rift Valley Fever?

Rift Valley Fever is a viral disease primarily affecting livestock but can also be transmitted to humans, causing flu-like symptoms and, in severe cases, hemorrhagic fever. It's spread by mosquitoes and has significant socio-economic impacts. Intrigued by how this disease influences both health and industry? Discover the intricate balance between ecological health and human activity as we explore Rift Valley Fever further.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Rift Valley fever (RVF) is a viral infection which primarily is seen in animals. However, it can cross over into humans, and is an example of a zoonotic disease. There are reservoirs of this disease in numerous African nations. Outbreaks of Rift Valley fever often occur after seasons of heavy rains, and cases have been documented as far north as the Middle East as a result of travel of infected people or animals and animal products which contain the virus.

The virus which causes Rift Valley fever is in the Phlebovirus genus. One very common mode of transmission is via insect vector. Insects such as mosquitoes which bite animals can pass the virus between animals and when the insects bite humans, they inject the virus into the human bloodstream. People can also get Rift Valley fever by handling infected animals and animal products such as meat and milk, and may pass the virus between each other as a result of poor hygiene such as failing to wash the hands after touching the nose.

Usually seen in animals, Rift Valley fever can also cause fevers in humans.
Usually seen in animals, Rift Valley fever can also cause fevers in humans.

The first sign of a Rift Valley fever outbreak is often a wave of spontaneous abortions among livestock, because the virus causes abortions in animals like cattle and goats. People exposed to the virus get sick within two to six days. In the most mild form, Rift Valley fever presents with flu like symptoms. The patient may feel nauseous and feverish for several days until the infection resolves, and then she or he should improve.

A person with a mild case of Rift Valley fever may experience flu-like symptoms.
A person with a mild case of Rift Valley fever may experience flu-like symptoms.

However, there are more serious forms of the disease. The ocular form attacks the eyes and can lead to blindness, for example, and Rift Valley fever can also cause meningitis and severe brain damage. Patients can also develop issues like chronic joint pain as a result of the infection. One particularly deadly variant is the hemorrhagic fever form of the virus, which causes death as a result of controllable bleeding, much of which is internal.

In some cases, Rift Valley fever can attack the eyes and lead to severe vision loss or blindness.
In some cases, Rift Valley fever can attack the eyes and lead to severe vision loss or blindness.

There is no cure for Rift Valley fever, although several companies have worked on developing a Rift Valley fever vaccine. Treatment focuses on providing supportive care to the patient to help him or her survive the acute phases of the infection, and on isolating people with active infections so that they cannot pass the virus on to others. During active outbreaks of Rift Valley fever, people are also encouraged to be careful about hygiene and to observe strict food safety precautions to reduce the risk of picking up the virus. However, this is not always possible, especially in remote regions which may lack the infrastructure to support better hygiene.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

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    • Usually seen in animals, Rift Valley fever can also cause fevers in humans.
      By: Photographee.eu
      Usually seen in animals, Rift Valley fever can also cause fevers in humans.
    • A person with a mild case of Rift Valley fever may experience flu-like symptoms.
      By: Syda Productions
      A person with a mild case of Rift Valley fever may experience flu-like symptoms.
    • In some cases, Rift Valley fever can attack the eyes and lead to severe vision loss or blindness.
      By: FotolEdhar
      In some cases, Rift Valley fever can attack the eyes and lead to severe vision loss or blindness.
    • Rift Valley Fever can sometimes cause chronic joint pain in patients.
      By: kazoka303030
      Rift Valley Fever can sometimes cause chronic joint pain in patients.
    • Although there is no cure for Rift Valley Fever, several companies are working on developing a vaccine for the disease.
      By: nandyphotos
      Although there is no cure for Rift Valley Fever, several companies are working on developing a vaccine for the disease.