Animal-Sourced Foods as a Global Risk for Rift Valley Fever Disease Spread and Emergence in Urban Areas

Rift Valley Fever is a mosquito-transmitted zoonotic virus that can also be transmitted to humans directly from infective livestock. Risk factors associated with human exposure include herding and slaughtering livestock and assisting animal births. Consuming raw meat and milk are also thought to be potential risk factors; however very little field data on the infectious nature of meat and milk exists which underscores a major gap regarding worldwide RVFV emergence prevention and control, particularly in urban areas. To date, there have not been any outbreaks of RVFV in urban areas. However, the world is becoming increasingly urban and RVFV has proven to be a highly adaptable virus since it has spread from its origin in Kenya.

Our research investigates the potential for RVFV emergence in new areas through a complex mobilization of animal products. We will link testing results of animal products to the origin location and explore high-risk areas for potential introduction to urban centers using participatory mapping techniques. By testing animal products entering large urban tertiary marketplaces from different regions of Kenya, we will disentangle the relationships between animal sourced foods and RVFV risk. Additionally, our pooling methods in the laboratory could provide a potentially paradigm shifting sampling framework for the way we currently detect new RVFV outbreaks and conduct animal surveillance.

 As the world becomes increasingly urban, congested areas have an increased demand for animal source foods, different vector distributions driven by land use change, and significant inequalities within a small geographical area, making them hotspots for disease and prime locations to study animal-sourced food safety. This project builds on previous documented human RVFV seropositivity and uses a One health approach to investigate this newly discovered urban burden of RVFV in humans and new risk factors associated with urban transmission.

PI: Desiree LaBeaud, Keli Nicole Gerken

Funding provided by Robert Shope Fellowship – ASTMH, CIGH Seed Grant, United States Department of Agriculture. 

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