SYMPTOMS and SIGNS

Rift Valley fever (RVF) causes high mortality rates in young ruminant animals, particularly lambs; and causes abortions in older animals. The virus also infects humans, commonly causing malaise, fever and headaches; in epidemics in North Africa, encephalitis and death have also occurred.

CAUSES and RELEVANCE to FLORIDA

Rift Valley fever is an insect transmitted viral disease that principally occurs only in Africa, but in recent years has spread to the Arabian peninsula.

The introduction of West Nile virus into New York in 1999 and the subsequent spread of the virus across the continent, to the Caribbean, and into South America illustrates that the introduction of RVF virus to the Western Hemisphere could lead to a similar epidemic. The impact of a RVF epidemic could be greater than the West Nile epidemic. The climate and mosquito species of Florida are ideal for the establishment of this virus.