Virology: Rift Valley Fever (Medicine Essay Example)

Institutional Affiliation Virology

The scientific study of microorganisms, genetic parasites, and any virus-like organisms is referred to as virology. The study of virology mostly involves the classification of the viruses, their structures, and their evolution. Other factors considered are their reproduction system, transmission, effects on their hosts, and the possible ways in which they can be mitigated. Virology also gives room for new questions through which new experiments are carried out; and, in the process, new views of virus arise as well as new ways of mitigating them. Virologists are also given a chance to find new ways of ensuring immunity of the host organism against the virus attacks. In studying virology, we also cover the origin of the viruses, which helps understand them and help design a prevention plan as well.

Since the virus has significantly affected the health factor globally, it becomes essential that world must always strive to develop vaccines that combat viruses early before they disintegrate into lethal vectors. Most viruses expose a susceptible host organism to severe illnesses by weakening its immunity and making the host susceptible to other common diseases. Such conditions may be fatal if secondary infections are not treated. Some of the common viruses include HIV, H1N1, Rift Valley fever, and SARS. Viruses are different from protozoa, bacteria, yeast, and other unicellular organisms in their ability to lack cellular structure. They are made of a nucleic acid genome structure encased in a protein shell. The nucleic acid can either be DNA or RNA with DNA being a double strand genome, and RNA being a single strand genome. The viruses also lack organelles in their bodies and are microscopic.

Viruses are the most dependent parasites as they entirely depend on their host organisms for replication. The viruses undergo some mutations during the replication, although their general structure is maintained. During the adsorption process, the virus reacts with the host cells passively, and the process might lead to the destruction of the latter. If the host body produces blocking antibodies unique to the virus, it can be rendered non-infectious. The result changes if the host organism fails to produce specific blocking antibodies; in this case, the viruses enter the host cells, shed their protein shells, and release their genome into the cytoplasm of the host cells. Once the viral genome takes over, it becomes easy for the viruses to replicate and spread infection through the host organism. The viral infection can then be propagated to another host through either direct or indirect contact. Direct contact involves physical contact between a healthy organism and an infected host. Indirect contact includes factors like air, other surfaces, and vectors. This paper explores a virology-related question on Rift Valley fever, a virus that largely remains subtle but quite lethal when it strikes.

How Is Rift Valley Fever Classified and Transmitted?

Rift Valley fever is a viral disease popular for causing fever in its host. Domesticated animals are the most vulnerable hosts, and the virus can also infect human hosts and cause serious illnesses. Rift Valley fever virus is classified under the genus Phlebovirus, the Bunyaviridae family. The virus originated from Rift Valley, Kenya; hence, it had got such name in the early 1900s. The Rift Valley fever virus thrives best in warm regions. It is mostly found in the eastern and southern parts of Africa as well as in the sub-Saharan area. The existence of the virus has also been reported in other regions like some parts of Saudi Arabia as well as Yemen.

The Rift Valley fever virus is vector-borne and is transmitted by mosquitos. The majority of the areas showing the most ambient conditions for the survival of the virus also have high infestation of mosquitos; it becomes very easy for the virus to spread among human and animals. The transmission can either be through mosquito bites or if a healthy host comes into contact with blood from an infected host. The virus can also be contracted if one contacts body tissues of infected animals.

What Are the Signs Exhibited by Manifestations and Symptoms of Rift Valley Fever Virus?

Rift Valley fever virus exhibits a short incubation period of two to six days after a host is infected. During this time, the virus causes several symptoms within the host organism. The virus exhibits few or no symptoms at all in a human host body. When the symptoms manifest, they are realized through fever and sometimes liver complications. The infected people may also show sign of general weakness and back pain. Due to the fever, some infected people may also experience dizziness a little after the infection. In animal organisms, the symptoms are classified according to their severity. If the infections are very acute, the virus causes, for example, abortion among sheep. The virus is also capable of killing animals under the age of ten days during an outbreak. The death always happens within twelve hours of infection. The virus also makes animals too weak to feed, which could also lead to their deaths. Fever, painful respiration, and prostration are also some of the symptoms that can be observed after an infection.

Acute cases of Rift Valley fever virus cause older animals to exhibit severe respiratory difficulties, vomiting, thick nasal discharges, and injected conjunctivas. It may also cause hemorrhagic diarrhea and abortion. The fever may also reduce the locomotive capabilities of an animal. Death may also occur among older animals even after ten days after an infection. Sub-acute cases of Rift Valley fever virus mostly happen among adult animals. It causes vomiting, injected conjunctivas, nasal discharges, and anorexia. Although the cases of abortion and diarrhea are reduced, they are still existent. The virus retards motor abilities of the infected animals, and the mortality rate among them is kept to a slight percentage. Some animals exhibit a high-level resistance to the effects of the virus. Such animals only experience fever which fades away quickly leaving the animal healthy.

Even though most people are not acutely infected by the Rift Valley fever virus, a small percentage of them get severely affected. The virus can cause ocular disease for the infected person. If lesions appeared on the eye, it can lead to permanent loss of vision. Some people may suffer temporary blindness and blurriness which disappear within twelve weeks after an infection. The virus may also cause inflammation of the brain. During such cases, the infected people may experience mild headaches, migraines, seizures, and even go into a coma. It occurs within four weeks after infection and may cause permanent neurological deficiencies. The mortality rate is very low in this case. The virus can also cause hemorrhagic fever, and this symptom occurs among very few infected people. However, half of the people exhibiting this particular trait are likely to die. Hemorrhagic fever may manifest itself as jaundice during early stages. There may also be evidence of the collapse of the liver, bleeding soft tissues such as those in the nose and gums, and blood in the stool as well. The death of the infected people with this symptom occurs within six days after an infection.

How Can Rift Valley Fever Virus Be Diagnosed?

Since Rift Valley fever virus shows very few and inconspicuous signs within the short period of its attack, identifying the virus quickly is not very successful. Diagnosis of the virus can be made using different methods. Virus propagation technique can be utilized during the post-mortem of the dead animals. This approach will reveal the presence of the virus in the blood of the animals during early phase of the virus infection. Specialists can also perform serological tests to identify the presence of the virus. The serological test could be done by performing the enzyme-linked immunoassay test. Tests to check for the presence of some antigens can also be done to help detect the presence of the virus in the host organism. Fast diagnosis of this virus will be beneficial as it will speed the virus control process and reduce the ultimate effects of the virus on the hosts and the communities affected.

How Can Rift Valley Fever Be Treated in Case of a Pandemic?

The Rift Valley fever virus outbreaks do not occur often. The virus is also less severe to human hosts, and it only takes a short period to dissipate. Due to this fact, specific treatment for the virus has not been developed. In the cases when severe effects of the virus occur in human hosts, the usual procedures for treatment of patients are followed. A vaccine has been developed to be used by people in vulnerable regions and by medical personnel that will be attending them. The vaccine is currently inactive and has not been introduced into the market. It is unlicensed and has not been tested on a large scale in terms of full-blown Rift Valley fever virus outbreak. Other types of vaccines against the virus are also being developed. Animal vaccines, on the other hand, have long been developed and are in use. The severity of the virus among the domesticated animals is very high, and the effect of the virus is also very significant. The number of affected animals is high as well as the number of their deaths. Due to this, the urgency to find a vaccine for the animals was also great, and the samples for experimentation were numerous. With that, it was easy to find a quick solution. Since animals are the most vulnerable and are propagators of the virus in most cases, vaccination of the animals reduced the number of outbreaks and the number of people infected by the virus.

What Are the Best Prevention and Control Strategies for Rift Valley Fever?

The final effects of the Rift Valley fever virus outbreak are severe. It is essential that ways of controlling the spread of the virus during an outbreak as well as the ways of preventing the occurrence of such outbreak will be outlined. A proposed system of regular vaccination of animals is one of the means through which the virus outbreak can be avoided. All veterinarians in susceptible areas are needed to be knowledgeable of all the existing, active, and inactive vaccines against the virus. A single dose of the vaccine gives an animal immunity against the virus for an extended period of time. The currently active vaccine has its side effects. It can cause abortion among pregnant animals and should not be used towards them. The inactive vaccine was designed to overcome this problem and is safe for use among pregnant animals. The inactive vaccines require being taken in multiple doses to have the same effects as the conventional vaccine.

The effects of the virus can also be blunted prior to an outbreak if all animals get immunized. The specialists on the ground should seize all vaccinations to prevent further intensification of the epidemic. The veterinarians vaccinating the animals should take care and use sterilized syringes and needles to avoid spreading the virus from animals not yet showing the signs of infection to the healthy ones. If care is not been taken, the magnitude of the outbreak will be amplified. The vulnerable areas should perform regular surveillance over the health of animals. Since the latter get infected first before propagating the virus to human hosts, monitoring will help warn the people in the respective regions, and necessary precautions can be implemented to help reduce the magnitude of the outbreak.

In the event of an outbreak, free movement of animals should also be banned or very restricted. Maintaining animals in one region will improve the process of controlling the virus. It will also reduce the number of infected animals and people who are likely to contract the virus. Having a specialized team in the vulnerable regions will also minimize the magnitude of the outbreak. The health specialists will work swiftly during the outbreaks in order to reduce the number of infections and carry out the immunization process. They will also help already infected people and animals to go through recovery. They can also be used to create awareness on the modes of transmission of the virus, signs and symptoms of infections, and the ways of getting help after infection. In doing that, the control of an outbreak will be more efficient.

How Can the Public Be Sensitized over the Rift Valley Fever Issue

Educating the public in the affected regions is essential. With the knowledge of what is to be expected during the outbreak, it becomes easy to deal with the virus. If the public is aware of all the procedures that will be deployed to control the spread of the virus in an outbreak, they are more likely to corporate with the health officials and less liable to be in the way. It will also reduce the number of people getting infected unknowingly due to the lack of information. The animal owners with knowledge of the virus are also agreeable towards taking all the preventive precautions like vaccinating their animals. They understand the importance of isolating them in the case of an outbreak.

The awareness campaigns should encourage collective protection against mosquitos as they are the key to the virus propagation process. Using mosquito nets and insect repellents will minimize the risk of contracting and spreading the virus. Consumption of fresh fluids from animals should be discouraged to reduce the risk of contracting the virus. People running animal slaughter businesses should adopt safe practices to lessen the danger of spreading the virus through any unsafe practices. They should ensure great care when dealing with any infected animals to reduce the chance of spreading the virus through their fluids as well as their tissues.

Since the outbreak of the virus is associated with certain climatic conditions, weather forecast can be used to predict the next most probable outbreak of the virus. The predictions help increase preparedness, thus reducing the chances of an attack or the magnitude of it if the animals get infected. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is playing a leading role in developing new and more effective vaccines to prevent outbreaks of the virus completely. Their objective is to reduce the number of infections among both humans and animals. NASA has also been instrumental in providing surveillance program for monitoring any alterations in oceanic temperatures that lead to weather changes that stimulate the virus outbreak. It has also been used to check for any updates or citations regarding the virus. Doing so ensures early detection of the virus hence quick control of its spread and reduction of the supposed outbreak magnitude. Governments in the vulnerable regions have also worked towards creating public awareness regarding the virus. These governments have also taken the necessary precautions to prevent an outbreak of the virus as well as used the resources in the event of a virus outbreak.


The virus that causes Rift Valley fever is mostly domiciled in Kenyan rift valley. The virus remains silent most of the times, but it is mostly exacerbated by high wetness that is occasioned by increased amount of rainfall. Since the discovery of the virus or even its attacks have largely remained silent, its impact normally remains low because the local population has developed natural immune against the virus, and there hardly appear any casualties. As the global temperatures rise, the virus is likely to exhibit unsighted characters; therefore, there is a need for close Rift Valley virus monitoring to predict its behavior.

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