Rift Valley Fever
Radio interview source: Sara Cherry, assistant professor, University of Pennsylvania
Deadly new disease
Mosquitoes are such a pain. First they bite and make us itch. Then they spread diseases like West Nile. And now, there's another skeeter disease on the radar called Rift Valley Fever. This virus has the potential to wipe out entire herds of livestock.
Sara Cherry is a microbiologist at the University of Pennsylvania. She says the symptoms of infection depend on the species of animal.
"For example, with sheep and cattle the first thing that happens is the pregnant females abort," Cherry says. "And so what will happen is you'll get massive abortions. That's usually the first indication that the virus is present."
The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, but humans can also get it by eating infected livestock. Cherry says 80% of people who contract the West Nile virus never even know they have it. But when Rift Valley Fever strikes, 90% of humans get sick with severe flu-like symptoms. Around 5% of them die from complications such as liver damage.
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