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What are the Symptoms of Rift Valley Fever & Who is at Risk?

The rift valley fever virus takes about two to six days to take full effect and show any symptoms. The occurrence of the symptoms is not necessary in all cases of rift valley fever infection. Usually, there is a brief period of incubation after which you can see the symptoms. The most prominent symptoms of rift valley fever are mild fever and improper functioning of liver. Some other symptoms of rift valley fever include lack of physical strength, pain in the back, dizziness etc… Usually, the symptoms do not require any attention or treatment as they go off in a matter of couple of days. In most cases, there is no need of any treatment but there are some particular cases of rift valley fever that requires immediate treatment. In the case of about 90% of rift valley fever infections, the symptoms are mild and easily manageable. It is the rest 10% of the cases that require attention.

What are the Symptoms of Rift Valley Fever?

The severe symptoms of rift valley fever are as follows:

  • Ocular disease is one of the severe symptoms of rift valley fever that directly affects the vision of a person. The development of lesions in eye causes infection. It usually takes 1-3 weeks for the infection to develop. In most cases, the infection causes a temporary defect in vision. You can recover from the condition in 10-12 weeks. However, if the infection occurs in the central part of the retina (macula), there is high probability of permanent loss of vision.
  • Encephalitis is one of the severe symptoms of the rift valley fever. It is actually an inflammation of brain that can lead to some severe outcomes including headache, coma and seizures. It is a rare condition of rift valley fever and affects less than one percent of the cases. The symptoms of Encephalitis can take a bit of time to reveal themselves. It is usually not until 1 week that you see any symptoms. In some cases, it may take up to 4 weeks to show any symptoms. Although it is not life threatening but it can lead to defects in brain that can even be permanent.
  • In rare cases, the rift valley fever can become severe and cause hemorrhagic fever. It is a rare occurrence but needs to be careful about it as it can be life threatening in 50% of the cases. Statistics suggest that about one percent of the total cases of rift valley fever can turn into hemorrhagic fever. A person can spot the first symptoms of rift valley fever after two to three days from catching the infection. The initial signs of hemorrhagic fever are similar to typhoid where the liver of a person stops to function properly. It results into signs of bleeding from nose and gums. Vomiting is associated traces of blood and some blood discharge can also be seen during motion. It is imperative that the treatment is started immediately as hemorrhagic fever can even lead to death in just a matter of three to six days.

Who is at Risk at Rift Valley Fever?

Rift valley fever is a contagious viral infection that can spread through various vectors or carriers including mosquitoes. Mosquitoes infected with rift valley virus are the main carriers of this infection. Some other insects are also responsible for spreading this infection. People who sleeps outdoors especially in the regions where there is an outbreak of rift valley are at high risk of catching rift valley fever.

Rift valley fever is common in animals. This increases the risk of rift valley fever among the people who are working with animals such as abattoir workers and herdsmen. They can easily get infected of they come in contact with body fluids, tissues or blood of the infected animals. People working in slaughter houses are the best candidates of exposure for rift valley fever.

People working in the veterinaries and the diagnostic laboratories are also at a high risk of catching this rift valley fever. This can occur while testing the human or animal samples of the animals or plants infected with rift valley fever. Thus, it is important for the people involved in this profession to take necessary precautions while handling the samples.

People who need to travel frequently from one country to another are also at high risk of catching rift valley fever if they visit any location or country where there is an outbreak of rift valley fever.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Rift Valley Fever: Symptoms and Treatment https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/rvf/symptoms/index.html
  2. World Health Organization (WHO) – Rift Valley Fever https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/rift-valley-fever

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 18, 2023

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