Kenya says Rift Valley fever returns, two dead

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NAIROBI, Sep 20 (Reuters) Rift Valley fever has killed two women in Kenya, the government said today, raising fears of another outbreak of the disease that claimed more than 150 lives earlier this year.

Officials had first worried that the two women who died in Nakuru district, a tourist hotspot, had the Ebola virus, which broke out last week in nearby Democratic Republic of Congo.

''This is not an Ebola outbreak, it is Rift Valley fever,'' government spokesman Alfred Mutua told reporters in Nairobi.

Transmitted to humans by mosquito bites or close contact with contaminated animals, Rift Valley fever can cause havoc in Kenya's important meat trade.

The movement of livestock was temporarily halted earlier this year when the first outbreak spread from Kenya to Somalia and Tanzania, killing more than 100 people in each country.

In severe cases, the disease triggers haemorrhaging in humans, causing the victim to vomit blood or bleed to death.

Outbreaks of the fever, named after the vast fissure running from Syria down to Mozambique, are thought to be cyclical. A 1997-1998 outbreak killed hundreds of Kenyans.

REUTERS GT BD2029

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