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Experts Warn Against Raw Milk Following Rift Valley Fever Outbreak in Kenya

As concern grows regarding the outbreak of the deadly Rift valley Fever (RVF) in neighboring Kenya, experts here have warned against consumption of raw milk. //

This is however despite reports that Tanzanian, even borderline areas, is safe from the viral livestock disease.

Consumption of raw milk being peddled door-to-door in Arusha by hawkers from Arumeru has been described to be dangerous, not only due to hygienic concerns but also due to the fact that both raw milk and crudely prepared meat, could be another medium through which, the disease can be spread.

Health and Livestock authorities in Northern Tanzania are keeping a tight watch around the Tanzania-Kenya remote periphery, over developments of a fresh outbreak of the deadly Rift Valley Fever (RVF) in Garissa, capital of Kenya's North-Eastern province, after a lull of almost nine years.

Officials with the Northern Zone Veterinary Investigation Center (VIC) have reportedly increased their monitoring activities and are maintaining tight restrictions around the stretching Tanzania-Kenya border in the northern zone regions of Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Tanga and Manyara.

The VIC Acting chief, Dr. Adam Mbise confirmed that an around-the-clock surveillance on the said remote periphery, precisely the one covering the 115 kilometer-long borderline stretch, north of Arusha, was a directive from the country's Director of Veterinary Services.

'We are maintaining a tight surveillance on the Northern Tanzania/Kenya border, monitoring the developments of a new outbreak of the deadly RVF in neighboring Kenya,' maintained yet another senior expert with VIC here, Dr. Adam Pima.

Though not a single RVF case has so far been reported on the Tanzanian side, experts have strongly warned the people around the vast periphery from consuming or handling all types of meat that has not been examined and approved as appropriate by the certified veterinar y officer.

Pima further suggested that people should also stop drinking raw milk as that could lead to mass infection of the deadly R V F.

'They are supposed also to sleep under mosquito nets during the night as the viral responsible for the infections are usually transmitted from livestock to humans by mosquitoes, just like malaria,' he stressed.

So far an outbreak of RVF has killed nearly 80 people in neighboring Kenya over the past four weeks, Nairobi's health officials said early last week, as authorities started vaccinating at least a million livestock in the affected regions.

The disease has infected around 200 people in Kenya since it was first reported late December last year and has continued to spread across several districts in the country.

A death toll of 75 has been registered in four districts – Garissa, Ijara, Tana River and Wajir, while another five deaths have been reported in the coastal Kilifi district, bringing the accounted toll to 75, Omar Ahmed, the medical services chief in the Kenya's worst-hit north-eastern Province was quoted as saying.

More people were reportedly being admitted to hospitals with the viral disease, which is usually transmitted from livestock to humans by mosquitoes – mainly during and after flooding.

However some epidemiological reports suggest the drinking of raw milk from infected animals could be the main route of infection.

The connection with flooding results from mosquito eggs that are buried in soil and hatch when washed over by flood waters. The last major outbreak of RVF in East African region was recorded in 1997 where 27,500 people were infected and 170 out of them died.

The Rift Valley Fever, which was first detected in the 1930s in South Africa, affects livestock such as cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, and camels as well as human beings.

Experts believe that the mosquito-borne pathog en had crossed the Sahara into Egypt by 1977 and by 1999 had traversed the Red Sea into Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Prior to 1977, it was considered primarily a veterinarian's disease. It wasn't until the Marburg filovirus attained international attention that Rift Valley fever was also identified as a cause of human hemorrhagic fever.

Patients who contract the virus usually experience fever, weakness, joint pain, dizziness and an extreme weight loss.

Typically, patients recover within two days to one week after the onset of illness, but about one percent develop a severe infection and half of these die, suffering hemorrhaging. There are no known vaccines for humans.

Outbreaks are often associated with periods of heavy rainfall, after which the mosquito population flourishes. Outbreaks have been reported in Kenya, Sudan, Egypt, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Mali, Mauritania, Madagascar, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Source: Bio-Bio-technology

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