Rift Valley Fever in the Gambia

extract of an early warning message from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations (FAO) dated 6 February 2003

In November 2002, serological and clinical data revealed the presence of Rift Valley fever (RVF) in eight
different locations in the valley of the river Gambia. The testing of the sera was done at the Laboratoire
National de Recherches Vétérinaires (LNERV), in Dakar, Senegal, and the results were disseminated by
the RVF regional coordination unit in Dakar.

The national seropositivity of the sampled animals was 48.4% for RVF neutralising antibodies
(30 positives of 62 sampled), of which 83.3% tested positive for RVF IgM antibodies, indicating recent
infection. These results thus confirmed the first suspected reports of RVF in the Gambia.
Human cases that were detected involved one human abortion and two deaths. Cases were suspected
to be related to the RVF disease. Health institutes and the World Health Organisation (WHO) are
carrying out further investigations.

PACE Gambia(1) is also involved in curbing the disease. PACE Gambia intervened by collecting samples
and sending them to the LNERV for confirmatory diagnosis. The programme also carried out a rapid
field assessment of the situation, had focus group discussions with farmers to gather more
information, prepared some extension leaflets for field veterinarians and carried out sensitisation at
Divisional level. They also formed a committee with the Ministry of Health to plan a response strategy
and determine their level of emergency preparedness.
Sources of information :
- PACE Gambia.
- EMPRES Group (FAO Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and
- The regional surveillance system for Rift Valley fever in West Africa.

(1) Pan African Programme for the Control of Epizootics in the Gambia
* For countries, such as the Gambia, which are not OIE Member Countries, the OIE considers FAO public domain information on
animal diseases to be official information.