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UN agency warns that viral disease could spread in Sudan

UN agency warns that viral disease could spread in Sudan

Rift Valley Fever, a viral disease affecting people and animals, could spread in Sudan amid preparations for the Eid Al Idha Muslim holiday, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) warned today.

The disease, transmitted by mosquito bites, could escalate as millions of animals are moved around the country as part of traditions to mark the holiday.

More than 160 people have died so far of the disease, mainly in White Nile, Sennar and Gazeera states, according to the UN World Health Organization (WHO).

The complex situation of the disease in livestock needs urgent monitoring, FAO said. The agency has offered to send a team of animal health experts to the Sudan for in-depth field investigations.

“We are ready to assist the veterinary authorities in developing a comprehensive monitoring and control programme,” said FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Joseph Domenech. “FAO could also assist in improving border quarantine and laboratory facilities for monitoring livestock exports.”

In response to recent Rift Valley Fever outbreaks, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have banned livestock imports from Sudan.

People become infected through mosquito bites or direct contact with infected meat and blood during the time of slaughter, or other biological material and body fluids. Uncooked milk of infected animals may also pose a risk, according to FAO.