Rift Valley Fever – epidemiological update and risk of introduction into Europe

10 March 2020

Article: 54/1003

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published an epidemiological update on Rift Valley Fever (RVF), including an assessment of the risk of its introduction into the EU.

RVF is a viral zoonosis that primarily affects animals, but also has the capacity to infect humans if they come into contact with the blood, body fluids or tissues of infected animals, or through bites from infected mosquitoes.

RVF is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Recent outbreaks in a French overseas department and the detection of seropositive cases – animals with RVF antibodies in their blood, indicating previous exposure to the virus - in countries close to Europe, have raised the possibility of incursion into EU territory.

The overall risk of introduction of the disease into the EU through the movement of infected animals is considered to be very low, given the strict policies on animal imports. Despite this, EFSA has recommended that EU authorities and member states should strengthen and improve their surveillance and response capability, as well as their scientific and technical expertise, to ensure better preparation in the event of RVF introduction.

Source: EFSA, 4 March 2020