Building resilience: Community-led response to Rift Valley fever in Isiolo County, Kenya

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Kenyan authorities issued an alert for Rift Valley fever on 24 January 2023 following the confirmation of a human case in Marsabit County, spurring preparations in neighbouring Isiolo County.

Rift Valley fever is a mosquito-borne zoonosis primarily affecting domestic animals, such as sheep, goats and camels.

Humans can be infected by direct or indirect contact with the blood or body fluids of infected animals.

In humans the disease ranges from a mild flu-like illness, to a severe haemorrhagic fever that can be lethal in about 50% of patients.

When livestock are infected, the disease can cause significant economic losses due to high mortality rates in young animals of up to 100%, and waves of abortions in pregnant females.

Ibrahim Kanata and Hadija Ali Halkan, a community disease reporter and a community health volunteer respectively, stood ready in Isiolo County to raise public awareness about Rift Valley fever transmission, prevention and early detection of symptoms to protect their communities from the outbreak.

Their readiness stemmed from a rigorous 3-day training course that was led by Isiolo County One Health Unit, and the Department of Veterinary Services, Isiolo County with support from the One Health Research, Education and Outreach Centre in Africa at the International Livestock Research Institute.

Held on 26-28 September 2023, the training course equipped community disease reporters, health volunteers and environmental scouts with essential skills to address One Health issues and enhance knowledge on antimicrobial resistance, zoonoses and disease surveillance in humans and animals.

Photo credit: Women waiting to fetch water as cattle drink from a water pan in Taita Taveta, Kenya (ILRI/ Juliet Kariuki)

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