NAMIBIA’S HANDLING OF RIFT VALLEY FEVER CAN SERVE AS EXAMPLE TO OTHERS – UN OFFICIAL
28 July - A top United Nations official has applauded Namibia for taking swift and effective action to halt the spread of Rift Valley Fever during recent outbreaks, adding that other countries can learn valuable lessons from its experience.
“This is an inspiring example for other countries to follow to protect their animals, livelihoods, trade and indeed people, together with neighbouring countries from serious animal diseases,” Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said yesterday during a meeting in the Namibian capital, Windhoek.
Rift Valley Fever emerged in Namibia in May after an absence of 25 years. The disease is carried by mosquitoes after heavy rains and flooding and is characterised by high rates of abortion and neonatal mortality primarily in sheep, goats and also cattle, according to FAO.
Humans are at risk – and can die – when in close contact with the blood or organs of infected animals or when bitten by infected mosquitoes.
Mr. Diouf lauded the alertness and prompt reaction of institutions such as the Meat Board of Namibia and the veterinary services, as well as the slaughterhouses where the disease was detected and the livestock farmers.
FAO had deployed a team of animal health and disease experts in response to the outbreak, who were also very impressed with Namibia's handling of the situation.
“The swift response is exemplary and very likely prevented worse from happening,” said Dr. Juan Lubroth, FAO's Chief Veterinary Officer.
Despite the success in containing recent outbreaks, FAO warned that Rift Valley Fever will continue to pose threats, including to Namibia as the next rainy season – expected in October/November – brings the risks back.