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Kiambu makes contingency plans to counter Rift Valley Fever outbreak – Kenya News Agency

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Kiambu County has drawn up an action plan to fight possible Rift Valley Fever outbreak following reports by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) of a potential Rift Valley Fever epidemic in the country.

The report which was released at the end of May 2024, warned counties in Eastern Africa of a potential outbreak of the Rift Valley Fever, following the impact of heavy rains experienced in the region in the recent months.

“The sustained downpours are suitable environmental conditions for potential RVF vector amplification, abundance and dissemination, resulting into extensive hotspots for RVF that are forecasted to persist in the region (South Sudan, Kenya, United Republic of Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, and parts of Madagascar), until the end of June 2024,” read part of the FAO report.

Rift Valley Fever (RVF) virus is a zoonotic disease affecting livestock and people, spread through contact with blood or body fluids, or through bites from infected mosquitoes. Kenya has therefore been facing recurring outbreaks of RVF since the discovery of the virus in the early 1900s, with the most recent outbreaks in Wajir and Isiolo counties in 2023.

KNA spoke to Kiambu County Director of Veterinary Services Dr Samwel Njuguna who stated that the Department has come up with a strategic plan which includes vaccination and sanitation of farmers to combat any new outbreak of the virus.

“We are and we have continually made sure that vaccinations for a zoonotic disease is available to farmers and we have also made plans to include Rift Valley Fever sensitisation in our weekly trainings, just to equip our farmers with knowledge and skills for preventing the disease from infecting their livestock,” said Dr Njunguna.

He added that the initiative has targeted areas that have experienced heavy rains and prolonged flooding as these are habitat hatching environments of RVF competent mosquitoes (e.g. Aedes and Culex), thus influencing the risk of RVF emergence, transmission and spread.

“We have areas in the Kiambu County that have previous history of the Rift Valley Fever disease, we have therefore prioritized these areas to ensure that the disease is not recurrent,” he remarked.

He further cited the fact that the Rift Valley fever also affects humans and can be transmitted to those individuals who are in close contact with contaminated blood, such as veterinarians, butchers, or animal handlers.

“Plans are underway to carry out sensitization campaigns to people who interact with livestock or livestock products daily including veterinarians, butchers, or animal handlers as they are at a high risk of contracting the disease in case of an outbreak,” stated the Vet Director.

He urged citizens to report to the nearest livestock and veterinary office in case of any indication of the disease.

By Grace Naishoo

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