What is it about?

Viral genetics, environmental factors and human behavior may combine to increase the severity of Rift Valley fever (RVF). We reviewed research into recent RVF outbreaks in East Africa. The RVF virus is transmitted primarily by mosquitoes and mainly affects livestock, with widespread infections coinciding with flooding and the associated increase in mosquito numbers. Poor management of infected livestock heightens the chances of human outbreaks, which have increased both in terms of case numbers and illness severity in the past two decades. Changes in the RVF viral genome have led to more diverse and virulent RVF strains to which humans are more susceptible.

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Why is it important?

With expanding ranges of mosquito-borne viral diseases, their genetics are clearly adapting as well. This work provides insight into how such changing viral genetics can lead to increased virulence in humans. The team call for careful monitoring of the evolution of RVF and other arboviruses.

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This page is a summary of: Has Rift Valley fever virus evolved with increasing severity in human populations in East Africa?, Emerging Microbes & Infections, June 2016, Nature,
DOI: 10.1038/emi.2016.57.
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