Rift Valley Fever Death Toll Rises to More than 90 in Yemen
More than 90 people have died in Yemen of Rift Valley Fever, a disease which has also taken lives in neighboring Saudi Arabia, an agriculture ministry official said Friday.
The official, asking not to be named, told AFP that 65 of the victims of the fever had died in the Wadi More region of Hodeida on the Red Sea. Another 27 had died in the northern region of Hojja, making a total of 92.
On Wednesday, a Yemeni health official put the death toll at 77 and said half of the livestock in Wadi More had been decimated. But Health Minister Abdullah Abdelwali later announced a much lower figure of 17 dead.
The Saudi authorities have announced a heightened state of alert in the Riyadh region to fend off the fever, which has been reported since September 11 in the south of the kingdom near the Yemeni border.
Planes and car from the south of the country are being sprayed with insecticide and travelers suspected of carrying the disease quarantined, said Riyadh's provincial health chief, Bader bin Abdel Aziz al-Rabiha.
According to an official Saudi toll, Rift Valley Fever has killed at least 17 people in the Gulf Arab state. But Rabiha said no case has been reported in or around the capital.
It is the first time that the disease, which affects domestic animals and can be transmitted to humans by mosquitoes, has been known to strike outside Africa.
Symptoms include hemorrhagic fever, encephalitis and eye problems, although human deaths from the disease are rare, according to experts.
The Saudi agriculture ministry announced on September 18 that it had suspended livestock imports from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, which are all on the Red Sea - SANAA (AFP)
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