Rift Valley Fever

By | June 8, 2022

Rift Valley fever is a zoonosis caused by phleboviruses. The abbreviation of Rift Valley Fever is RVF and is derived from the English term ‘Rift Valley Fever’. Rift Valley fever occurs primarily in ruminants as a hemorrhagic fever and can be transmitted to humans. Patients suffer from flu-like symptoms that can lead to death.

What is Rift Valley Fever?

Rift Valley fever was first described in 1913 in the Rift Valley in Kenya. Basically, phleboviruses transmit Rift Valley fever. It is an infectious disease of ruminants that sometimes manifests itself in humans in the form of haemorrhagic fever. In 1931, the first epidemic of Rift Valley fever developed, after which the disease spread throughout Africa. For hyperhidrosis guide, please visit deluxesurveillance.com.

Only in the Sahara and north of the desert does Rift Valley fever rarely occur. When Rift Valley fever first appeared in the Arabian Peninsula in 2000, the disease killed over 160 people. The Rift Valley Fever virus normally only affects ruminants such as cattle, sheep, goats and camels. However, Rift Valley fever can also be transmitted to humans using special vectors, such as mosquitoes of the Aedes or Culex genera. The Rift Valley fever has not yet occurred in Europe.


The triggers of Rift Valley fever are special phleboviruses. Viruses are mainly transmitted to humans by vectors. Mosquitoes in particular act as carriers of the disease in Rift Valley fever. The virus itself belongs to the Bunyaviridae, which prefers to transmit the mosquito species Aedes and Culex.

In addition to being infected by mosquitoes, some people also contract Rift Valley fever through contact with sick ruminants. People living in or traveling to the main areas where Rift Valley fever is most common are at particular risk. Contact with or consumption of raw meat, blood or faeces from infected animals increases the likelihood of contracting Rift Valley fever.

In addition, some patients contract Rift Valley fever from germs in the air. In addition, transmission of Rift Valley fever between people is possible through the exchange of blood. For this reason, treatment of patients in strict quarantine is required.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

In humans, Rift Valley fever manifests itself in non-specific symptoms that are similar to those of influenza. The symptoms of Rift Valley fever usually begin after an incubation period of three to ten days after infection with the pathogen. As a result of Rift Valley fever, patients suffer from headaches and muscles, increased body temperature and nausea.

Occasionally, the Rift Valley fever leads to serious courses in which people develop meningitis, hepatitis or encephalitis. In addition, some people develop hemorrhagic fever and retinitis from Rift Valley fever. In severe cases, patients go blind from Rift Valley fever. Basically, the Rift Valley fever occurs in humans, especially in the context of epidemics in animals.

Patients become infected either through the air or through contact with sick ruminants. About one percent of those affected develop severe hemorrhagic fever and hepatitis a few days after the onset of Rift Valley fever. Many people die from the complications. When the fever subsides, some people develop a fatal meningitis and retinitis.

Diagnosis & course of disease

The diagnosis of Rift Valley fever must be made by a specialist doctor, for example a doctor who specializes in tropical diseases or zoonoses. The patient’s medical history takes into account possible contact with infected animals and stays in risk areas of Rift Valley fever. Blood analyzes play an important role in the clinical examination of people suffering from Rift Valley fever.

From the fourth day after the onset of Rift Valley fever, infection serology can be carried out. The doctor detects the virus and the corresponding antibodies. In this way, a relatively reliable diagnosis of Rift Valley fever is possible.


Rift Valley Fever can cause serious health complications. People often develop meningitis, hepatitis or encephalitis. Meningitis can result in blood poisoning, septic shock and eventually organ failure and death.

Hepatitis can cause liver cirrhosis and liver cancer, among other things, while encephalitis usually causes seizures or swelling of the brain. In severe cases, Rift Valley fever can cause hemorrhagic fever and retinitis (inflammation of the retina). For many people, these complications are fatal. Treatment via ribavirin is associated with various side effects.

Common complaints are skin rashes, redness and swelling of the skin, and mild spasm of the respiratory muscles. Headaches, shortness of breath, accelerated or slowed breathing, coughing or mild anemia occur less frequently. In isolated cases, severe anemia can occur. Dry mouth, muscle, bone and joint problems and a number of other interactions can also occur in combination with other preparations such as interferon alpha 2b. In children, growth disorders, behavioral problems, exhaustion and, in the case of existing heart diseases, cardiac dysfunction can occur.

When should you go to the doctor?

In the case of mucopurulent nasal discharge, fever and diarrhea, Rift Valley fever may be the cause. If the symptoms mentioned occur after direct contact with infected animals (e.g. at slaughter), a doctor must be consulted. At the latest when a pronounced hemorrhagic fever occurs, medical advice is required. The disease can be fatal if left untreated. Therefore, fever symptoms that indicate a serious condition must be evaluated and treated. In the event of visual problems or signs of meningitis, the emergency doctor must be called immediately.

The patient is in acute mortal danger and requires immediate intensive care treatment. Rift Valley fever is treated by an internist or a zoonoses specialist. A medical examination is also necessary due to the high risk of infection and the resulting obligation to report. Risk patients such as butchers or shepherds should pay particular attention to any signs of illness and, if in doubt, consult their family doctor. People who are in risk areas such as Senegal, Egypt, Kenya, Sudan, Namibia or Saudi Arabia are particularly at risk.

Treatment & Therapy

Rift Valley fever is generally notifiable, both when it occurs in animals and in humans. There is currently no way to cure Rift Valley fever in people who are ill. In animal experiments, the medicinal substance ribavirin has shown some effectiveness.

In principle, it is advisable for travelers in risk areas to carry out exposure prophylaxis and thus prevent Rift Valley fever. Accordingly, the use of insect repellents and protective clothing is advisable. There are already vaccines against Rift Valley fever that are relatively effective. So far, however, their use has not been permitted in Germany.

With regard to the lack of curative therapy options, the treatment of Rift Valley fever is primarily symptomatic. In severe cases of Rift Valley fever, patients receive the antibiotic drug ribavirin.


Safe prevention of Rift Valley fever is not possible. However, Rift Valley fever can be partially prevented by taking certain precautions. Exposure prophylaxis for people in the endemic regions is of great importance. In addition to protection against mosquitoes by means of insect repellents and long clothing, contact with sick ruminants should also be avoided. Touching or eating raw meat and blood is also not recommended. Vaccines against Rift Valley fever are available, but cannot yet be used in Germany.


Rift Valley fever belongs to the group of tropical diseases. Both cattle and humans can get sick. Germany is not one of the affected areas, possible isolated cases are caused by people entering the country and must be reported. The fever can be fatal. For this reason, follow-up care is necessary.

Consequential damage such as blindness or meningitis must be averted by consistent follow-up treatment. If a tourist wants to travel to an affected region such as Africa or the Arabian Peninsula, preventive care rather than follow-up care makes sense. Before the trip, prophylactic therapy is carried out. According to the current state of research, it is not possible to cure Rift Valley fever medically, the symptoms must subside by themselves.

Nevertheless, methods for maintaining vital functions are necessary. Simultaneous symptom relief is also advisable, it depends on the severity of the symptoms. Some of those affected are symptom-free or only suffer from a slight fever, while in others the disease becomes life-threatening. The average duration of Rift Valley fever is one week.

The patient is stabilized as part of the follow-up care, but follow-up care after a fever has healed does not make sense. Preventive procedures can protect against re-infection and should therefore be used under medical supervision.

You can do that yourself

If signs of Rift Valley fever are noticed, the doctor should be consulted first. The condition is notifiable and should be reported and treated promptly.

Accompanying the medical treatment, the patient should rest and pay attention to a gentle diet. Airy, breathable clothing counteracts the fever. The diet should consist of light food, such as steamed vegetables or soup, so that the circulation is relieved. As a rule of thumb, one additional liter of liquid must be drunk for every degree of increase in temperature. Since fever is usually accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea, it is also important to drink enough. Body temperature is regulated by cooling wraps. Homeopathic preparations can be used for headaches. After the first few days, the bed may be left. Moderate exercise and avoiding stress can help to cure the ailment quickly. Conservation continues to apply at the same time.

If the symptoms get worse, the doctor must be informed. In rare cases, the zoonosis can be fatal. Therefore, unusual symptoms should be clarified by a doctor in any case. If the condition recurs, research into the cause is also indicated. It is possible that Rift Valley fever is transmitted by a sick animal in the area or there is an immune deficiency that increases the risk of such diseases.

Rift Valley Fever