People living in or visiting areas with Rift Valley Fever (RVF) can prevent infection with these steps:
- Avoid contact with blood, body fluids, or tissues of infected animals. People working with animals in RVF-endemic areas should wear appropriate protective equipment (such as gloves, boots, long sleeves, and a face shield) to avoid any exposure to blood or tissues of animals that may potentially be infected.
- Use only safe animal products. All animal products (including meat, milk, and blood) should be thoroughly cooked before eating or drinking.
- Protect yourself against mosquitoes and other bloodsucking insects. Use insect repellents and bed nets, and wear long sleeved shirts and long pants to cover exposed skin.
No vaccines are currently available for vaccination in people.
A number of questions and challenges remain in the control and prevention of RVF. Scientists are still researching how the virus is maintained and spread within different mosquito species, and the risk factors associated with severe cases of RVF in people. Surveillance (close monitoring for RVF infection in animal and human populations) is essential to learning more about how RVF virus infection is spread and to formulating effective prevention measures. Establishing environmental monitoring and case surveillance systems may help to predict and control future RVF outbreaks.
Different types of vaccines are available for use in animals. Inactivated, or killed, vaccines are not practical in routine animal field vaccination because of the need for multiple doses. A modified live vaccine (the Smithburn vaccine) is one of the oldest and most widely used vaccines for controlling RVF in Africa. This vaccine only requires a single dose but is known to cause birth defects and abortions in pregnant livestock and may only provide cattle with limited protection from infection with RVF.
Several candidate vaccines are being developed and evaluated. The live-attenuated vaccine, MP-12, has shown promising results in laboratory trials in domesticated animals, but more research is needed before the vaccine can be used in the field. The live-attenuated clone 13 vaccine was recently registered and used in South Africa. Alternative vaccines using molecular recombinant constructs are in development and show promising results.