Rift Valley fever outbreak hits South Sudan

The government of South Sudan has confirmed an outbreak of Rift Valley fever (RVF) among domesticated livestock and humans in 3 counties of the Eastern Lakes State.

In a statement, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said a state of emergency has been declared following the confirmation of the disease outbreak in Yirol East, Yirol West and Awerial counties of Eastern Lakes State.

The RVF outbreak was first suspected in December 2017 following 3 deaths of humans with a history of severe haemorrhagic illness.

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“Abortions in goats and sheep; deaths/disease in goats and cows were also reported and epidemiologically linked to the human cases. Following the illness cases and deaths, stakeholders launched in-depth investigations to establish the cause of deaths and illness in humans and animals.

“Laboratory tests conducted by the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) confirmed that 6 human blood samples out of 34 collected were positive for RVF. One of the initial 7 animal samples tested at UVRI was also positive. Further, 8 out of 21 samples collected from animals tested positive for RVF at the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) reference laboratory in South Africa,” the WHO said.

Up to 40 cases of suspected human RFV have been recorded between 7 December 2017 and 9 March 2018 in the Eastern Lakes State. Of these, 6 have been confirmed, 12 are yet to be confirmed, 3 are under quarantine while 19 have since been cleared after testing negative for RVF.

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The WHO has since facilitated the establishment of a multi-sectoral rapid response to investigate and prevent further spread of the disease. The WHO is also coordinating the disease surveillance, risk communication, case management and distribution of medical supplies to mitigate the impact.

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