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Effects of Rift Valley Fever, United States | CDC EID::Volume 17, Number 8–August 2011

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Volume 17, Number 8–August 2011
Online Report
Potential Effects of Rift Valley Fever in the United States

David M. Hartley, Jennifer L. Rinderknecht, Comments to Author Terry L. Nipp,1 Neville P. Clarke,1 Gary D. Snowder,1 and the National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense Advisory Group on Rift Valley Fever2

Author Affiliations: Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA (D.M. Hartley); National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA (D.M. Hartley); National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense, College Station, Texas, USA (T. L. Nipp, J. L. Rinderknecht, G. D. Snowder); and Texas &M University, College Station (N.P. Clarke)

Suggested citation for this article
Workshop Summary

Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) has been the cause of disease outbreaks throughout Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and the infection often results in heavy economic costs through loss of livestock. If RVFV, which is common to select agent lists of the US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Agriculture, entered the United States, either by accidental or purposeful means, the effects could be substantial. A group of subject matter experts met in December 2009 to discuss potential implications of an introduction of RVF to the United States and review current modeling capabilities. This workshop followed a similar meeting held in April 2007. This report summarizes the 2 workshop proceedings. Discussions primarily highlighted gaps in current economic and epidemiologic RVF models as well as gaps in the overall epidemiology of the virus.

Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense Workshops

The potential effects on both human and animal health and the US economy from foreign animal and zoonotic disease (FAZD) threats is clear. The National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense (FAZD Center) was founded in April 2004 to defend the United States from FAZD threats. One such threat is the accidental or deliberate introduction of Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV). This article reports on 2 FAZD Center workshops (in April 2007 and November 2009) that reviewed the status of US vulnerability to RVF and mitigation modeling and identified information and technology gaps. Workshop discussion centered on relevant biology and management strategies to include in RVF epidemiologic models, important effects to include in economic models of RVF consequences, and ways to integrate epidemic and economic models. Each major topic of discussion is summarized below.

Disease Cycle

RVFV is transmitted to livestock and human hosts primarily by biting vectors and handling of infected animals by persons. In Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, competent vectors include numerous Aedes and Culex spp. mosquitoes. Recent competence studies have found that competent vectors in both genera exist in the United States (1). Field observations indicate that RVFV is vertically maintained during dry periods in the eggs of floodwater Aedes spp. mosquitoes, although transovarial transmission has not been observed in laboratory experiments (2). Workshop participants recommended that an earlier hypothesis regarding an RVFV sandfly/rodent cycle be studied further (3,4). Given the hardiness of Aedes spp. eggs, which have been found to remain viable in African soil for years, if RVFV were to be introduced into the United States, eradicating it may be difficult or impossible (5). Climatic, environmental, and ecologic factors such as the creation of larval mosquito habitat by above-normal amounts of rainfall are well-known antecedent events for African outbreaks, but the timing and interaction of these variables in the United States are unknown. Participants also noted that human morbidity and mortality rates in the United States may be different from those observed in rural Africa.

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Suggested Citation for this Article

Hartley DM, Rinderknecht JL, Nipp TL, Clarke NP, Snowder GD; National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense Advisory Group. Potential effects of Rift Valley fever in the United States. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2011 Aug [date cited].

DOI: 10.3201/eid1708.101088

Comments to the Authors

Please use the form below to submit correspondence to the authors or contact them at the following address:

Jennifer Rinderknecht, National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense (FAZD Center), 1500 Research Pkwy, Suite B130, College Station, TX77843-2129, USA; email:

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