South Sudan declares Rift Valley Fever outbreak in Eastern Lakes State

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[Juba, South Sudan, TCT] - South Sudan Ministry of Health together with Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries on Monday declared Rift Valley Fever (RVF) outbreak in Yirol east, Yirol West and Awerial Counties in Eastern Lakes State.

The declaration was preceded by a joint high-level advocacy mission led by the Minister of Health, Dr Riak Gai Kok, officials from World Health Organization (WHO), and the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO).

South Sudan’s minister of livestock and Fisheries, James Janga Duku, said the RVF outbreak was first suspected in December 2017, following 3 deaths in humans with a history of severe hemorrhagic illness in Yirol East County and Eastern Lakes State.

“There is confirmation of an outbreak of Rift Valley Fever in Eastern Lakes State. 21 samples were collected andtested in OIE referral laboratory in South Africa. Out of the 21 samples, three tested positive with RVF [his confirmed the the epidemic],’’ said Duku.

Honorable Duku noted that other separate laboratory tests conducted at the Uganda Virus Research Institute confirmed that six human blood samples out of 34 collected were positive for Rift Valley fever (RVF). He revealed that the deaths and abortions among goats, sheep and cows were also reported and epidemiologically linked it to the human cases.

World Health Organization (WHO) representative, Evans Liyosi, said they have responded with the medical equipment including other health logistical items needed in the affected areas.

“WHO has facilitated the establishment of a multi-sectoral rapid response to investigate and prevent further spread of the disease,’’ said Liyosi.

Experts said a joint multi-sectoral contingency plan has been developed and is to be fully rolled out in Eastern Lakes with surveillance, risk communication and case management to ensure RVF is effectively contained.

RVF is a viral zoonotic disease that primarily affects animals, but also has the capacity to infect humans. People are infected with RVF virus through contact with blood, body fluids, or tissues of RVF virus-infected animals, mainly livestock. This direct contact with infected animals can occur during slaughter or veterinary procedures, like assisting an animal giving birth.

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