Rift Valley Fever – Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Are you suffering from headache and muscle pain? Have your eyes lately become too sensitive to light? You may be suffering from Rift Valley Fever for these are the classic symptoms of this condition. Read on to know what is Rift Valley Fever, what causes Rift Valley Fever, the symptoms of Rift Valley Fever in humans and their treatment.

Rift Valley Fever Definition

Rift Valley Fever (RVF) is a form of viral infection that is transmitted to humans from animals. It mainly affects livestock and is then passed on to humans causing fever though human beings can also contract the disease directly from mosquito bites.

Rift Valley Fever History

The history of Rift Valley Fever can be traced back to the early decades of the last century. The Rift Valley Fever virus was first identified in 1931 when an investigation was being made to find the cause of a sheep epidemic in the Rift Valley of Kenya. The name struck ever since and the disease came to be known as Rift Valley Fever.

Rift Valley Fever Symptoms

The major symptoms of Rift Valley Fever in humans are :


In Rift Valley Fever humans typically suffer from a rise in body temperatures. Increase in body temperature is also one of the major Rift Valley Fever symptoms in cattle.


Fever is usually accompanied with a mild or acute pain in the head. Fever and headache are two of the most common Rift Valley Fever symptoms in humans.


Sufferers of Rift Valley Fever human disease also experience extreme tiredness due to this disease which impairs daily activities.


Patients also suffer from pain in the muscles in one or more region.

Back Pain

Individuals with Rift Valley Fever typically suffer from pain in the back. The pain may be mild or severe and can vary from person to person.


Sufferers also have a reeling sensation due to this highly discomforting syndrome.

Loss of Weight

Weight loss is very common in affected people, mainly during the early stages of this disease.


symptom of Rift Valley Fever
Picture 1 – Encephalitis
Source – butler

In patients with Rift Valley Fever brain can suffer a severe inflammation known as Encephalitis. Encephalitis is not very common and arises only in a few cases.

Hammoehragic Fever

In case of hammoehragic Rift Valley Fever liver damage can also occur in humans. This is associated with the occurrence of some other condition such as jaundice.

In case of Rift Valley Fever lesions are found to arise in animals. However, they are not found to appear in humans.

Rift Valley Fever Causes

Rift Valley Fever is caused by the spread of the Rift Valley Fever (RVF) virus which belongs to the Phlebovirus genus, one of the five subtypes of the Bunyaviridae virus. The disease is borne by Rift Valley Fever mosquitoes. When mosquitoes carrying this virus bite livestock, the virus is transmitted to the animals. Rift Valley Fever in animals is caused by the entry of virus from mosquitoes.

Humans failing to wash hands properly after handling the meat, milk, secretions or tissues of these infected animals can contract the disease. Touching the nose with the contaminated hand transmits the virus to the internal system of the body. Humans can also contract the disease directly from mosquito bites. A bite from a mosquito carrying the Phlebovirus virus can also make it enter the body of an individual.

In medical studies regarding Rift Valley Fever climate change is often seen to be a factor. While studying climatic conditions in East Africa, Rift Valley Fever outbreaks were seen to be followed by periods of heavy rainfall. It is not known whether climate change works as a cause behind development of Rift Valley Fever disease.

Rift Valley Fever Diagnosis

Rift Valley Fever diagnosis, especially of its acute cases, is done with the help of serological tests like Enzyme-Linked Immunoassay (known as ‘ELISA’ or ‘EIA’). RT-PCR and Antigen Detection tests can also be used for the diagnosis of Rift Valley Fever. These examinations can help detect the presence of Phlebovirus in the early stages of the disease.

Rift Valley Fever Differential Diagnosis

The differential diagnosis for Rift Valley Fever involves distinguishing the disease from other similar arboviral and feverous viral conditions.

Rift Valley Fever Treatment

There is known Rift Valley Fever cure for humans. Several firms are trying to bring out an effective Rift Valley Fever vaccine. However, medical researchers have had some success in using the antiviral drug Ribavirin in monkeys suffering from this condition. Some studies have also found immune modulators and antiviral proteins like interferon quite effective for Rift Valley Fever control.

Rift Valley Fever Prevention

Rift Valley Fever can be prevented by maintaining proper hygiene. In areas with Rift Valley Fever prevalence, people should wash their hands after handling animal meat, secretions and tissues. This will help avoid Rift Valley Fever transmission and prevent humans from contracting Rift Valley Fever. It will also stop spread of Rift Valley Fever Virus transmission in unaffected animals.

Rift Valley Fever Mortality Rate

In case of severe Rift Valley Fever, haemorrhages can occur. A haemorrhagic Rift Valley Fever can cause death of a person in 7-10 days. It can result in death of a large number of animals. In the early 1950s, a Rift Valley Fever outbreak resulted in death of over 100,000 sheep.

About 1% of people with Rift Valley Fever are said to die from the condition.

If you are living in an area with high rift valley fever prevalence, it is best to practice good hygiene. This will help you avoid contracting this disease and also prevent others from getting it too. The disease usually goes away in a few days but can give rise to life-threatening complications in a few cases. As there is no specific treatment for this disorder, it is better to guard yourself from this discomforting condition.







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