Fears Of Mutant Virus Mount
As Fever Kills Hundreds
By Louise Tunbridge in Nairobi
From Electronic Telegraph
EXPERTS have confirmed the spread of a deadly haemorrhagic fever, which has already killed hundreds of people in north-eastern Kenya, to areas within 100 miles of the capital, Nairobi.
Five deaths from the disease, diagnosed as Rift Valley Fever, have been reported in Magadi in the Kajiado district, south of Nairobi and near the border with Tanzania. The disease, transmitted from animals to humans by mosquitos or contact with infected livestock, causes fever, vomiting and bleeding from gums and orifices.
The nature and spread of the disease is uncertain and the health ministry is advising people to boil milk and cook meat thoroughly. Some schools have banned meat. The Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta, where specimens were tested, urged tourists to protect themselves from mosquitos.
Epidemiologists from the World Health Organisation arrived last week to investigate and draw up guidelines on preventative measures with the Kenyan health ministry. One said the team was puzzled by the virulence of the disease and the high fatality rate and was considering the possibility of a mutant strain of the virus.
Rift Valley Fever is endemic in Africa and usually classified as a non-fatal disease. WHO officials say there is no human vaccine, but the US military says it developed one in an anti-viral programme to counter biological warfare. It has not been approved for civilian use.

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