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Res Virol. 1989 Jan-Feb;140(1):67-77.

Rift Valley fever among domestic animals in the recent West African outbreak.

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  • 1Disease Assessment Division, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, MD 21701.


Severe haemorrhagic disease among the human population of the Senegal River Basin brought the Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) outbreak of 1987 to the attention of science. As in previous RVFV outbreaks, local herdsmen reported a high incidence of abortion and disease in their livestock. Serum samples were obtained from domestic animal populations from areas near Rosso, the best studied focus of human infection, as well as other areas distant from known human disease. Among animals from the area of high incidence of human disease, antibody prevalence was as high as 85%, with approximately 80% of the sera positive for both RVFV IgG- and viral-specific IgM antibodies. In contrast, human populations in the same area had lower RVFV antibody prevalences, 40% or less, with 90% also being IgM-positive. Sera from livestock in coastal areas 280 km south of the epidemic area were negative for RVFV antibodies. Thus, the detection of RVFV specific IgG and IgM antibodies provided evidence of recent disease activity without the requirement to establish pre-disease antibody levels in populations or individuals and without viral isolation. Subsequently, detection of modest levels of IgG and IgM in the Ferlo region, 130 km south of the Senegal River flood plain, established that RVFV transmission also occurred in another area of the basin. Similar serological testing of domestic ungulates in The Gambia, 340 km south of Rosso, demonstrated antibody prevalence consistent with a lower level of recent transmission of RVFV, i.e., 24% IgG-positive with 6% of the positive sera also having RVFV-specific IgM.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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