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Diagnosis of Rift Valley fever in ruminants, according to the DG of Livestock


May 25, 2022

BUJUMBURA May 24th (ABP) – The Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Livestock, informs the public that Rift Valley Fever has been diagnosed for the first time in Burundi in cattle, sheep, goats, according to the Director General of Livestock, Mr. Serge Nkurunziza, indicates his press release from the said ministry.

Given that Rift Valley fever is a zoonotic disease which can be transmitted to humans through contact with the blood of an affected animal, he invited the Ministry of Public Health to take steps to collaborate with his ministry to conduct joint monitoring.

According to him, it was towards the end of April 2022 that cases of this initially unknown disease, with an unusual clinical picture, were reported in Kirundo and Ngozi provinces in cattle.

There were reports of numerous cases of abortions, nasal bleeding and hyperthermia, diarrhea often mixed with blood, generalized weakness, lack of appetite and conjunctival hemorrhages, which in most cases ended in the death of affected animals. Apart from the symptom of abortion, it should be noted that all ages and sexes in cattle are affected.

Since the onset of the disease, 100 cattle deaths have been recorded. Following these alerts, the Directorate General for Livestock via the National Veterinary Laboratory carried out investigation visits on April 30, 2022 and May 9, 2022 respectively, after which blood samples from sick animals were been collected.

Based on information from the field as well as clinical suspicions, the first laboratory analyzes focused on the search for flea. The results revealed that 4 of the samples were positive for that disease.

However, and given the unusual clinical picture that can be totally linked to flea, other analyzes were conducted to look for other possible causes. Thus, dermatology tests carried out on the same samples showed reduced blood platelet levels. The results of the haematological examinations combined with the clinical manifestation made it possible to suspect hemorrhagic fevers among others Rift Valley fever, episodic hemorrhagic syndrome, hemorrhagic disease of Crimea Congo, bacteriological anthrax, infectious bovine rhinotracheitis.

It is in this context that the first analyzes with the molecular biology technique focused on Rift Valley fever for which the reagents were still available.

At the end of those analyses, the samples tested were positive. Currently, the disease has spread to other provinces namely Kayanza, Karusi, Cibitoke, Bujumbura and Makamba. While the molecular analyzes were underway, multidisciplinary animal health experts were dispatched to all these provinces for further epidemiological investigations. The teams noted that the clinical signs reported by the field services have been confirmed. Mortalities and abortions also concern small ruminants.

The first reported cases are generally located in cross-border areas. Clinical cases continue to be observed.

Mr. Serges Nkurunziza calls on field technicians to take all the necessary precautions for individual protection, particularly in terms of biosecurity. Breeders must inform the technical services of all clinical cases for their support.

The monitoring of the evolution of the disease continues at all levels, breeders are requested to regularly spray all animals with phytosanitary products.

In the affected areas, the restriction of all movement for ruminants and the ban on their slaughter must be respected until further notice.

He reassured the people that the ministry having livestock in these attributions is at work to deal with this disease and urgently restore the situation.