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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Rift Valley Fever

Introduction

Rift Valley fever (RVF) is a viral infection that mainly affects animals but can also cause disease in humans. The virus is found in Africa and parts of the Middle East.

Humans become infected if they have contact with sick animals and infected blood/tissue is either inhaled or enters the body through a wound. Drinking unpasteurised milk or eating raw meat from an infected animal may transmit the infection. Less commonly mosquitoes transmit the infection to humans.

The Illness

Most people infected have no symptoms. Some develop a flu-like illness 2 – 6 days after becoming infected. This resolves without treatment over a week.

<1% of cases can develop severe disease that may affect the eyes, cause meningitis or severe liver infection and bleeding, which can be fatal.

Treatment

Most cases resolve without treatment. Severe illness needs hospital intensive care support. There is no specific treatment against the virus.

 

Recommendations for Travellers

Rift Valley fever is very rare in travellers.

The risk is increased in those visiting an area experiencing a Rift Valley fever outbreak and having contact with infected animals/humans or their tissues, for example:
• Travellers visiting farms/game reserves.
• Veterinarians/veterinarian students.
• Volunteers/workers on farms.
• Laboratory staff/students.
• Health Care Workers.

Those at increased risk of RVFV infection should:
• Avoid direct contact with infected animals and animal tissues where possible, if this is unavoidable, personal protective equipment should be worn.
• Avoid drinking unpasteurised milk and consuming raw meat and blood products.
• Practice good insect bite avoidance measures

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