Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV), a mosquito-borne zoonotic virus, is one of the pathogens named in the World Health Organization’s list of priority diseases.
The virus causes large economic losses in eastern and southern Africa through its impact on livestock and human health and consequences for export of live animals to countries outside of Africa. Infection in sheep and cattle is characterized by an increased incidence of abortion or fetal malformations. In severe human cases, the virus can cause encephalitis or haemorrhagic fever.
Vaccines are used in livestock in Africa, but there are risks associated with these and, to date, no vaccine is licensed for human administration. There are fears that the virus could spread to other regions; outbreaks of RVFV have occurred in the Middle East, northern Egypt and the Comoros Archipelago. Rapid and specific diagnostic tests are needed to provide early warning of potential human outbreaks.