Rift Valley Fever: Important Considerations for Risk Mitigation and Future Outbreaks

Trop Med Infect Dis. 2020 Jun 2;5(2):89. doi: 10.3390/tropicalmed5020089.


Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is a zoonotic phlebovirus of the Phenuiviridae family with great opportunity for emergence in previously unaffected regions, despite its current geographical limits. Outbreaks of RVFV often infect humans or domesticated animals, such as livestock, concurrently and occur sporadically, ranging from localized outbreaks in villages to multi-country events that spread rapidly. The true burden of Rift Valley fever (RVF) is not well defined due to underreporting, misdiagnosis caused by the broad spectrum of disease presentation, and minimal access for rapid and accurate laboratory confirmation. Severe symptoms may include hemorrhagic fever, loss of vision, psychological impairment or disturbances, and organ failure. Those living in endemic areas and travelers should be aware of the potential for exposure to ongoing outbreaks or interepidemic transmission, and engage in behaviors to minimize exposure risks, as vaccinations in humans are currently unavailable and animal vaccinations are not used routinely or ubiquitously. The lack of vaccines approved for use in humans is concerning, as RVFV has proven to be highly pathogenic in naïve populations, causing severe disease in a large percent of confirmed cases, which could have considerable impact on human health.

Keywords: One Health; Rift Valley fever (RVF); arboviruses; livestock; mosquito-borne viruses; travel medicine; viral emergence; zoonoses.

Publication types

  • Review