Panelist: A. Sally Davis, DVM, PhD, DACVP, Kansas State University
Moderator: Chhavi Chauhan, PhD, ASIP
Description: Rift Valley fever phlebovirus (RVFV), is a mosquito-borne, zoonotic pathogen in genus Phlebovirus, family Phenuiviridae, order Bunyavirales that typically causes outbreaks in Africa and spread to the Arabian Peninsula in 2000. It has a high colonization capacity, is a potential emergent risk in Europe, Asia and the Americas due to the presence of competent vectors and is a bioterrorism/agroterrorism concern as it could be weaponized. Consequently, it is classified as a category A pathogen by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in recognition of its potential for social disruption requiring significant public health preparedness and is the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s third most dangerous animal threat after avian influenza and foot-and-mouth disease. In the U.S. RVFV is a Select Agent. All work with virulent RVFV must be conducted minimally at biosafety level 3 enhanced.
The virus replicates in both Aedes spp. and Culex spp. mosquitoes including species native to non-endemic areas. In ruminants, particularly sheep, RVFV infections cause mass abortion and high mortality rates in neonates. Older animals can succumb to liver and kidney failure as well as hemorrhagic fever. Other ruminants, including cattle, goats, a diversity of African wild hoofstock, white-tailed deer, camels and alpacas are also susceptible to RVF. In humans, RVF ranges from flu-like symptoms to hemorrhagic fever, liver and/or kidney failure and can also include encephalitis and retinitis. Increased abortion risk has also been correlated with the presence of RVFV in humans.