Saudi Arabia said Monday that it had brought under control the outbreak of Rift Valley Fever that has killed 16 people in the kingdom this month.
"The Rift Valley Fever has been brought under control and the relevant authorities are working hard to wipe out this disease quickly," Saudi Health Minister Osama Shobokshi informed the cabinet, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
The country's health ministry said Sunday that the fever was first reported September 11 in Jizan province bordering Yemen and that 16 of the 36 people infected by it have died.
It was believed to have been introduced to Saudi Arabia via sheep, a large number of which have recently died in Jizan, according to the health ministry.
The secretary of the Saudi agriculture ministry, Abdel Aziz al-Shetri, announced Monday that Riyadh had decided to suspend imports of livestock from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, where they could be infected.
He added that movement of livestock in and out of Jizan had also been banned, in order to keep the fever from spreading to neighboring provinces.
However, the health ministry in Qatar said Monday his country would continue to import lifestock and beef from Saudi Arabia, saying there was "no reason to take preventive measures" despite the outbreak of the disease.
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.
Since Rift Valley Fever was first identified in 1930 after an epidemic among sheep in Kenya, it has also affected Egypt, Madagascar, Mauritania and Somalia, according to the World Health Organization -- RIYADH (AFP)
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