Rift Valley Fever kills 92 people in Sudan

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KHARTOUM, Nov 14 (Reuters) Rift Valley Fever has killed 92 people in Sudan since reports of an outbreak surfaced a week ago and it is still spreading, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said today.

The UN body has started holding daily meetings to monitor the spread of the disease, which can kill as many as half of those who contract it, has no effective human vaccine and can devastate livestock.

A WHO spokeswoman said the latest figures showed 314 known human cases in Sudan, up from 228 reported six days ago, with a death rate of just under 30 per cent.

In its most serious haemorrhagic form, which the WHO says has appeared in Sudan, it can kill up to 50 per cent of the people it infects.

Herders and other people who work with animals are most vulnerable to the disease, which can spread through contact with contaminated blood or bites from infected mosquitoes.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said it had sent an animal health expert to Sudan to help the government contain any outbreak in livestock and said Sudan had already reported some animal infections to the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health.

But Khartoum denied making any such report today and the Ministry of Animal Resources said there were no confirmed cases in herds despite the outbreak among humans.

National daily Alray Alam also reported a number of Sudan's key trading partners, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, had already imposed temporary bans on imports and the movement of Sudanese animals over their borders.

Egypt had also sent teams of vets to its southern border with Sudan to monitor the situation, media said.

The FAO said they were also monitoring an outbreak of desert locusts in northern Sudan. It warned that without proper spraying, the insects could form swarms and devastate crops in countries along the Red Sea coast, and as far west as Sudan's troubled Darfur region, into next year.

REUTERS PY VC2055

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