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Hundreds of people in Kenya and Somalia have died in recent weeks from an outbreak of Rift Valley fever (RVF) believed to have been sparked by widespread flooding from heavy rains.
Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) sent a second team to help strengthen the surveillance system and assist other relief organizations working in the area, including the International Federation of Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières.
Initial reports of a mysterious illness in northeastern Kenya came in December 1997. The WHO Collaborating Centre at the National Institute for Virology in Johannesburg, South Africa, confirmed RVF virus infection from blood samples taken from humans and animals. The WHO reports fatalities could be as high as 450; thousands of sheep, goats, and cows reportedly have died in the outbreak.
Voelker R. Rift Valley Fever Outbreak. JAMA. 1998;279(6):420. doi:10.1001/jama.279.6.420