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Kenya: Rift Valley Fever Devastates Meat Industry

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  • Kenya: Rift Valley Fever Devastates Meat Industry

    Kenya: Rift Valley Fever Devastates Meat Industry
    January 30, 2007
    Posted to the web January 30, 2007

    Dagi Kimani, Special Correspondent

    Kenya's meat industry, which contributes nearly 4 per cent of the gross domestic product, is facing unprecedented devastation following the spread of the deadly Rift Valley Fever (RVF) into the populous districts around Nairobi.

    At least half of Kenya is now under threat from the fever.

    At stake is an industry that produces more than 363 million kilogrammes of red meat each year valued at over Ksh43 billion ($615 million), with the value of beef market alone being estimated at Ksh35 billion ($500 million). The combined goat meat and mutton market is worth more than at Ksh8 billion ($114 million) while camel meat stands at Ksh0.66 million ($9,400).

    The exact value of the meat trade is probably much higher as these figures are based on an Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) investors' briefing prepared in late 2005 by Nairobi-based PKF Consulting Ltd in conjunction with the International Research Network (IRN).

    Last week, butcheries and red meat distributors in Nairobi started reporting a decline business following the first death in the capital of a patient transferred from a neighbouring district to the referral Kenyatta National Hospital.

    Kajiado district, where much of Nairobi's beef and goat meet comes from, also last week reported outbreaks of the killer fever.

    Recent marketing studies estimate that total annual beef consumption in Nairobi and Mombasa exceeds 91 million kg and 15 million kg respectively. This translates to about 850,000 animals per annum, the bulk of which originate from the Northeastern and Coast Provinces, now under quarantine in a bid to limit the continued spread of RVF.

    The disease has already killed at least 120 people and thousands of livestock in the two provinces alone.

    In total, according to the EPZA report, red meat - comprising beef, mutton, goat and camel meat - accounts for over 80 per cent of all the meat consumed in Kenya. More than 67 per cent of the red meat is produced in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) under the pastoral production system.

    Pastoralists in the areas hard-hit by RVF rear about 70 per cent of the national livestock herd, estimated at about 9.7 million beef cattle, 9.6 million goats, 8.3 million sheep, and 0.8 million camels. All these animals are susceptible to RVF, and their transportation, slaughter and consumption is already being limited by the quarantines now in place in much of Kenya east of the Rift Valley.

    Other than the disruption caused by public jitters in Kenya, the effects of RVF are likely to hurt Kenya's efforts to export more meat and animal products.

    The country's main export markets for meat products have traditionally included the United Arab Emirates, Tanzania and Uganda, while the main markets for hides and skins are Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Italy.

    According to EPZA data, the value of meat products exported increased from Ksh190 million ($2.7 million) in 1999 to Ksh 285 million ($4.1 million) in 2002 while the quantity of hides and skins exported increased from 7,302 tonnes in 1999 to 13,910 tonnes in 2003.

    Since 2005, Kenya has substantially expanded its export market to countries in the Comesa and Indian Ocean regions, including Mauritius and Seychelles and the Comoros.

    Disruption of both the domestic and export markets is likely to slow the path to profitability for the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC), which was reopened on June 26 last year by President Mwai Kibaki nearly 15 years after being looted into bankruptcy.

    KMC's newly refurbished factory in Athi River near Nairobi is the biggest integrated meat plant in the region, and has already won several export orders, which could now be in jeorpady.

    The fact that the current RVF outbreak has reached hitherto unaffected areas is likely to compound the economic costs incurred by the meat industry.

    The unusual spread of the disease, which Kenyan experts have attributed to irregular weather patterns and global warming, has occurred despite the efforts of the authorities and international partners to set up a buffer zone to cordon off the two regions from the rest of the country by instituting mass vaccination of animals and through quarantines.

    Kenya last experienced an RVF outbreak during the 1997-1998 El Nino season, when more than 400 people and thousands of livestock died from the disease. The outbreak led to the cancellation of exp-ort orders, mainly to the Middle East, worth millions of shillings.

  • #2
    Re: Kenya: Rift Valley Fever Devastates Meat Industry

    Kenya: Wake Up, There's a Fever in the Land!

    January 30, 2007
    Posted to the web January 30, 2007


    WHILE THE DEADLY RIFT VALLEY FEVER spreads to nearly half of the country, the Kenyan government appears unable to shrug off its legendary lethargy and declare it a national emergency.

    In addition to claiming 120 lives and leaving at least 400 people sick, the disease poses a serious threat to the revival of Kenya's long-neglected meat industry. The sector contributes 4 per cent of GDP and offers livelihoods to millions of people in the arid and semi-arid regions.

    Butcheries and meat distributors in Nairobi and adjacent areas are already reporting low business.

    Yet the solutions are not beyond the reach of the government. First, it must launch a sustained and urgent campaign to vaccinate all domestic livestock in the country against the fever, with international assistance.

    Second, urgent research is needed to establish the natural reservoirs, which are thought to be wild animals, must be undertaken on a priority basis.

    But the Kenyan government must first learn to take research findings and projections seriously. It is significant, for example, that the current outbreak was predicted by American space scientists nearly a year before it occurred, but little effort was made to stockpile animal vaccines or to sensitise medical personnel in areas at risk.

    The authorities must also seek to limit interaction between livestock and wild game by enforcing policies that delineate and protect national parks and reserves to lower the risk of transmission between the animals. Veterinary services and surveillance systems must be enhanced to detect outbreaks in the critical early stages.

    Closely related to this is the need to pay greater attention to the protection of the environment to limit the emergence of diseases such as RVF and yellow fever, whose outbreaks have been known to occur when human activity upsets the natural environment of the hosts.

    While all these are measures are admittedly expensive, the cost of doing nothing is unimaginable. And unpardonable for any self-respecting government


    • #3
      Re: Kenya: Rift Valley Fever Devastates Meat Industry

      There is a post up on ProMed that claims that the outbreak in Kenya is not Rift Valley Fever. I do not know if this is a rogue doctor who differs with the opinions of others or if this is real.

      If not RVF, could it be the illness that was reported in mammals at Qinghai Lakes in China in May of 05????


      • #4
        Re: Kenya: Rift Valley Fever Devastates Meat Industry

        ************************************************** ****
        A ProMED-mail post
        ProMED-mail is a program of the
        International Society for Infectious Diseases

        Date: Mon 5 Mar 2007
        From: Kariuki Njenga <>

        Tests performed on specimens from 8 dead buffalos from Baringo district
        (not Hell's Gate) in Kenya were negative for Rift Valley Fever (RVF).
        Baringo district has reported over 150 human cases of RVF, with 52 of these
        confirmed by laboratory tests since late January 2007.

        Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing of sera from the animals was
        negative, strongly suggesting that the death was not due to RVF. Serologic
        testing is ongoing.

        M Kariuki Njenga, PhD
        Virologist and Laboratory Director


        • #5
          Re: Kenya: Rift Valley Fever Devastates Meat Industry

          I sent the good doctor an e-mail. I was curious as to what direction he was leaning and wanted to know what other checks for virus were being run.


          • #6
            Re: Kenya: Rift Valley Fever Devastates Meat Industry

            Let us know what you hear back Joe. Thnx for heads up on the ProMed update.