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Media opportunity: Dalhousie University researchers helping to contain lethal Rift Valley Fever outbreak by vaccinating cattle in Rwanda, while setting up early warning system for economically devastating virus
Researchers from Dalhousie University are working on the front lines of a worsening outbreak of Rift Valley Fever in Rwanda, where they hope to develop a more effective vaccine and better understand the mosquito-borne virus that can be lethal to livestock and people.
Dr. David Kelvin and Dr. Pacifique Ndishimye of Dalhousie's Department of Microbiology and Immunology spent more than two months in the East Africa Community country, which has seen the number of cases rise dramatically over the last several months.
Working with local scientists, they collected samples from exposed and infected animals and people, water sources and mosquitos to study a virus that has spread throughout sub-Saharan Africa, causing human fatalities and many thousands of deaths and abortions in domestic animals.
The virus infects cattle, sheep and goats and can be economically devastating for countries like Rwanda that rely heavily on farming and domestic animals for food.
The team helped vaccinate cattle, goats and sheep, and is also hoping to assess the efficacy of the existing vaccine, while developing one that can be used on pregnant cattle which experience high rates of abortion due to vaccination. Members are also developing an early warning system that will alert officials to a potential outbreak following reported abortions, satellite images and weather/climate forecasting data.
Dr. Kelvin and Dr. Ndishimye are available to discuss their work and how it will help to build a better vaccine against a virus that is raising concerns about potential epidemics.
Senior Research Reporter
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