Molecular and Serological Studies on the Rift Valley Fever Outbreak in Mauritania in 2010
Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is a vector-borne RNA virus affecting humans, livestock and wildlife. In October/November 2010, after a period of unusually heavy rainfall, a Rift Valley fever outbreak occurred in northern Mauritania causing clinical cases in cattle, sheep, goats and camels, 21 of which were of lethal outcome. The aim of this study was to obtain further information on the continuation of RVF virus activity and spread in animal species in Mauritania after this outbreak. We therefore tested sera from small ruminants, cattle and camels for the presence of viral RNA and antibodies against RVFV. These sera were collected in different parts of the country from December 2010 to February 2011 and tested with three different ELISAs and an indirect immunofluorescence assay. The results show a high seroprevalence of RVFV IgM and IgG antibodies of about 57% in all animals investigated. Moreover, in four camel sera, viral RNA was detected emphasizing the important role camels played during the latest RVF outbreak in Mauritania. The study demonstrates the continuous spread of RVFV in Mauritania after initial emergence and highlights the potential role of small ruminants and camels in virus dissemination.