On 30 August 2016 the World Health Organisation (WHO) received reports regarding unexplained deaths in humans and livestock in the North West of Niger and the areas bordering Mali.
A total of 64 human cases including 23 deaths were reported between 2 August 2016 to 22 September 2016 from Tchintabaraden health district in Tahoua region. The majority of these cases are men that work as farmers or animal breeders. In the affected area, an outbreak was reported amongst livestock within the same timeframe, including deaths and abortions among cattle.
As of 16 September 2016, 13 human specimens were tested at Institute Pasteur Dakar, of which 6 tested positive for Rift Valley Fever (RVF). A total of 6 animal specimens were tested, of which 3 were positive for RVF. Sequencing and further laboratory testing is ongoing and laboratory support for Niger is being considered as there is no national capacity to test. Currently specimens are being shipped to WHO regional collaborating centres for laboratory confirmation. There is a risk that only severe human cases are being detected and under reporting cannot be ruled out.
In response the WHO Country Office is providing technical and financial support for surveillance, outbreak investigation, technical guidelines regarding case definition, case management, shipment of samples and risk communication.
The WHO asserts that the risk of further spread of the outbreak within Niger and internationally cannot be ruled out.
Advice for Travellers
During epidemics of Rift Valley fever, direct transmission occurs via the aerosol route from infected animal tissues or fluids e.g. during slaughtering or butchering. All animal products should be thoroughly cooked before eating.
In addition mosquito bites have been implicated in transmission of disease therefore travellers should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.