Response to Rift Valley Fever in Tanzania: Challenges and Opportunities
Tanzania Health Research Bulletin
Rift Valley Fever (RVF) is an arthropod borne viral disease affecting livestock (cattle, sheep, goats and camels), wildlife and humans caused by Phlebovirus. The disease occurs in periodic cycles of 4-15 years associated with flooding from unusually high precipitations in many flood-prone habitats. Aedes and Culex spp and other mosquito species are important epidemic vectors. Because of poor living conditions and lack of knowledge on the pathogenesis of RVF, nomadic pastoralists and
... sts and agro-pastoralists are at high risk of contracting the disease during epidemics. RVF is a professional hazard for health and livestock workers because of poor biosafety measures in routine activities including lack of proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Direct exposure to infected animals can occur during handling and slaughter or through veterinary and obstetric procedures or handling of specimens in laboratory. The episodic nature of the disease creates special challenges for its mitigation and control and many of the epidemics happen when the governments are not prepared and have limited resource to contain the disease at source. Since its first description in 1930s Tanzania has recorded six epidemics, three of which were after independence in 1961. However, the 2007 epidemic was the most notable and wide spread with fatal human cases among pastoralists and agro-pastoralists concurrent with high livestock mortality. Given all the knowledge that exist on the epidemiology of the disease, still the 2006/2007 epidemic occurred when the government of Tanzania was not prepared to contain the disease at source. This paper reviews the epidemiology, reporting and outbreak investigation, public awareness, preparedness plans and policy as well as challenges for its control in Tanzania.