Kenya’s Business Daily newspaper reports that Kenya is forging a new pact in an old war against the deadly mosquito-transmitted ‘zoonotic’—human plus livestock—disease called Rift Valley fever.
‘Kenya has partnered with neighbouring stats to boost surveillance on Rift Valley Fever in a fresh bid to trim the annual budget for managing the disease as the country moves to protect its multibillion meat export trade.
‘The country’s top veterinary officials together with their counterparts from 12 neighbouring states were in Dubai where they were introduced to a simple innovation for controlling the Rift Valley Fever (RVF).
‘Officials at the Livestock ministry said the training, organised by the Africa Union, paves way for adoption of the innovation called “decision support tool” for RVF by all the Horn of Africa countries.
‘The tool tracks a series of natural events linked to increased risk of RVF outbreak and communicate[s] them to veterinary officials, allowing them to roll out preventative measures before animals and humans get infected.
‘”The good news is that the impact of RVF can be mitigated with early action during an outbreak, but veterinary officers and decision-makers need to know what interventions to implement, and when, as the stages of an epidemic unfold,” said Mr Bernard Bett, an epidemiologist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).
‘To Kenyan meat exporters whose products have been blamed from key markets in the Middle East since the 2007 RVF outbreak in the region, the move is the boldest step yet towards regaining the high end market. . . .
‘The surveillance tool has been developed by 30 experts from across the Horn of Africa guided by researchers from ILRI, Food and Agriculture Organisation, and United States Agency for International Development. . . .
‘The new tool is expected to significantly cut the budget for handling the disease. In the 2007 outbreak, Kenya spent at least Sh2.7 billion to manage the disease, according to ILRI.
‘”In the 2007 case, control measures were implemented too late—not until there were definitive signs of an outbreak,” said Mr Jeffrey Mariner, an epidemiologist at ILRI. . . .
‘Experts see increased trade in livestock products as an antidote to high international food prices that have driven inflation to new highs in most African economies.’
Read more about the Rift Valley fever meeting in Dubai on ILRI’s News Blog: Amid soaring meat costs, officials from East Africa and Middle East seek plan to keep animal diseases from disrupting livestock trade, 13 June 2011.