UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
EAST AFRICA: Risk of Rift Valley Fever "virtually nil"
NAIROBI, 10 March (IRIN) - A joint FAO/WHO statement said on Tuesday the risk of infection to both humans and animals from the Rift Valley Fever virus had been reduced to minimal or negligible proportions in countries of the Horn of Africa.
"Remote sensing satellite data of climatic conditions fully support ground observations that conditions in the Horn of Africa countries are highly unfavourable for multiplication of mosquito vectors of the Rift Valley fever virus. The risk of an epidemic occuring soon is virtually nil," an official statement said.
Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are now in a "better than normal" situation with regard to the virus and other diseases transmitted through insects to humans and animals. "Climatic conditions in the four countries since mid-1998 returned to normal or below normal rainfall amounts and crop growing conditions... Thus the risk of humans or livestock being infected with Rift Valley fever has returned to historically extremely low levels," it added.
The statement said that a large proportion of the livestock were immune after being infected in 1997/98 and that there was "no risk of such livestock transmitting the disease to humans or other animals." It said the "present extremely low risk" of infection was comparable to the risk in former years that "permitted the safe export of livestock."
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has lifted a ban on the import of livestock from Eritrea a move analysts see as more political than on health grounds. "Why Eritrea?," an analyst who sought anonymity told IRIN.
According to Reuters, Saudi traders said on Tuesday they were informed about the lift of the ban on importing sheep and camels from Eritrea in a circular from the chamber of commerce in Riyadh on Sunday. Saudi Arabia banned livestock imports in February last year from Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Kenya for fears that an outbreak of the Rift Valley fever in Kenya could spread.
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 1999 13:32:05 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: EAST AFRICA: Risk of Rift Valley Fever "virtually nil"
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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