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OCHA reports Rift Valley fever outbreak in Sudan

November 23 - 2019 KHARTOUM
Emblem of Sudan's federal Ministry of Health (File photo)
Emblem of Sudan's federal Ministry of Health (File photo)

The Sudanese Ministry of Health has announced an outbreak of Rift Valley fever (RVF) in the country. RVF task force committees have been activated in the most affected states of Red Sea and River Nile. Prices of locally grown stable foods began to decline with the start of the harvest in October, while prices of imported wheat increased, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported in its latest Situation Report on Thursday.

RVF is a mosquito-borne viral disease that is transmitted to humans from animals, through contact with blood, organs, or milk from infected animals.

From 25 September to 3 November 2019, the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory in Khartoum confirmed RVF cases among animals in Red Sea and River Nile states.

The current outbreak can be linked to the recent floods in the country that have left large pools of stagnant water, which are breeding sites for various types of vectors such as mosquitoes.

A total of 319 suspected RVF cases have been reported in six states affected by floods this year. The majority of the cases, 186, were recorded in River Nile state. In Red Sea state 128 cases, including 11 related deaths, were reported. Two cases were recorded in Kassala, one in neighbouring El Gedaref, one in Khartoum, and one case in White Nile state. A high proportion of the cases are farmers (37.5 per cent).

RVF is endemic in Sudan and three outbreaks affecting people have been documented in 1973, 1976, and 2008. During the outbreak in 2008, a total of 747 laboratory-confirmed cases were reported, including 230 deaths, OCHA stated.

The disease can cause significant economic losses due to livestock travel and trade restrictions, as well as high mortality and abortion rates among infected animals.

On October 18, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture announced a ban on importing livestock from Sudan, following confirmation from the World Organisation for Animal Health on documented cases of RVF in the country.

In response to the outbreak, RVF task force committees have been activated in the most affected states of Red Sea and River Nile. Active vector control activities with household inspections and fogging to eliminate mosquitoes are ongoing in affected areas.

In the affected villages in Red Sea state, health centres were established with a capacity of 11 beds, laboratory equipment, drugs, and supplies to provide health services for those affected. In addition, the Veterinary Epidemiology Department of the Ministry of Animal Resources conducted vector control in four animal enclosures in affected villages.

Prices of staple foods declining

Though prices of locally grown sorghum and millet in Sudan began to decline with the start of the harvest in October, prices of cereals are still at record or near record levels, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The exceptionally high level of food prices is the result of the significant depreciation of the country’s currency, coupled with fuel shortages and soaring prices of agricultural inputs, which inflated production and transportation costs.

The weak currency, coupled with shortages of hard currency, restrained the country’s ability to import food and non-food items, including wheat flour and fuel, thus causing shortages and higher prices, according to the FPMA bulletin.


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