Rift Valley Fever (RVF), a deadly viral disease that broke out in Kenya in late 2006, has spread to neighbouring Tanzania, where two deaths have been reported in the northern region of Arusha, a government official said Tuesday.
“The two were admitted to Mount Meru Hospital after contracting the disease last week,” Evance Balama, the acting Arusha regional commissioner, said. He said the two, from a village known as Terat, became ill after eating mutton and were taken to hospital.
Balama said hospital authorities had sent samples to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which is based in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, and the results confirmed that the two Tanzanians had died of the disease. RVF has killed at least 170 people in Kenya and has also spread to Somalia, where the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) says 100 suspected cases, including 48 deaths, had been reported by 30 January 2007.
RVF was first identified in Kenya in 1931. Its initial symptoms include spontaneous abortions in sheep, goats and cattle. The RVF virus can be transmitted by mosquitoes or through contact with infected animal material such as blood or other body fluids or organs.
Consumption of milk, a staple for many pastoralists, is also a possible risk. Symptoms in humans include bleeding through the nose and mouth, and liver failure.