Rift Valley fever virus (RVFv) is capable of causing dramatic outbreaks amongst economically important animal species and is capable of causing severe symptoms and mortality in humans. RVFv is known to circulate widely throughout East Africa; serologic evidence of exposure has also been found in some northern African countries, including Mauritania. This study aimed to ascertain whether RVFv is circulating in regions beyond its known geographic range. Samples from febrile patients (n= 181) and nonfebrile healthy agricultural and slaughterhouse workers (n= 38) were collected during the summer of 2014 and surveyed for exposure to RVFv by both serologic tests and PCR. Of the 219 samples tested, 7.8% of nonfebrile participants showed immunoglobulin G reactivity to RVFv nucleoprotein and 8.3% of febrile patients showed immunoglobulin M reactivity, with the latter samples indicating recent exposure to the virus. Our results suggest an active circulation of RVFv and evidence of human exposure in the population of Tunisia.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Supported in part by a grant from the US Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) ( 16953 ) and with funding from the UK Biological Engagement Programme (UKBEP) . The authors thank N. A. Sammour and D. Elliott, project managers, CRDF and UKBEP, respectively, for enabling this collaboration and providing funding for this work. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the National Health Service, the National Institute for Health Research, the Department of Health, Public Health England or their partner institutions in Tunisia.
- Unexplained acute fever