Research Article: Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices (KAP) on Rift Valley Fever among Pastoralist Communities of Ijara District, North Eastern Kenya

Date Published: November 13, 2015

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Ismail H. Abdi, Hippolyte D. Affognon, Anthony K. Wanjoya, Washington Onyango-Ouma, Rosemary Sang, Claudia Munoz-Zanzi.

Abstract: Outbreaks of Rift Valley fever (RVF), a mosquito-borne viral zoonosis, have previously been associated with unusually heavy rainfall and extensive flooding. The disease is a serious public health problem in Africa and the Middle East, and is a potential global health threat. In Kenya, outbreaks of the disease have disproportionately affected impoverished pastoralist communities. This study sought to assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) regarding RVF among the pastoralists of North Eastern Kenya, and to establish the determinants of KAP on RVF. A cross-sectional study involving 392 pastoralists living in Ijara district (Masalani and Ijara wards) was carried out using an interview questionnaire. All respondents interviewed (100%) had heard about RVF disease. They recognized that the disease is dangerous (99%), and had a positive attitude towards vaccination of animals (77%). However, few respondents knew that abortion (11%) and high mortality of young animals (10%) were key signs of RVF in animals. Very few (4%) use any form of protection when handling sick animals to avoid infection. Significant factors associated with knowledge were being in a household with a history of RVF infection (OR = 1.262, 95% CI = 1.099–1.447), having more livestock (OR = 1.285, 95% CI = 1.175–1.404) and the place of residence, Masalani (OR = 0.526, 95% CI = 0.480–0.576). Overall knowledge score on RVF was found to be a significant predictor of good preventive practice of the disease (OR = 1.073, 95% CI = 1.047–1.101). Despite the positive attitude that pastoralist communities have towards the prevention of RVF, there exist gaps in knowledge and good practices on the disease. Therefore there is need for public health education to address these gaps, and to identify and facilitate the removal of barriers to behavioural change related to the prevention of RVF.

Partial Text: Rift Valley fever (RVF) is a mosquito-borne viral zoonosis that affects both domestic and wild animals [1]. The disease was first recognized and characterized in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya in 1931 during an investigation into an epizootic among sheep on a Naivasha farm [2]. The disease is caused by the RVF virus (RVFV), a member of the genus Phlebovirus in the family Bunyaviridae [3, 4]. Studies conducted in Kenya, Sudan and Saudi Arabia have shown a positive association between occurrence of RVF outbreaks and heavy rainfall, extensive flooding and increase of mosquito populations [5–11]. Such flooding leads to the hatching of a large number of flood water Aedes species, the reservoirs of the virus. When these mosquitoes lay eggs in flooded areas, transovarially infected adults may emerge and transmit RVFV to domestic animals close by [10]. The transmission of RVFV in domestic animals is either through bites of infected mosquitoes or by direct contact with infected animal tissues and bodily fluids particularly if associated with abortions [8].

Everyone interviewed had heard about RVF, but this was not strange, as Ijara was one of the districts seriously affected by the disease in the outbreaks of 1997/1998 and 2006/2007 in Kenya [26, 27]. Despite this general awareness, there was an indication of low level of knowledge based on overall scores. Regarding RVF signs in animals (Table 1), apart from high fever, other signs in animals were mentioned by less than 25% of the respondents. This finding was consistent with a study done among livestock keepers of Tanzania that indicated that there was little knowledge on RVF (all clinical signs scored less than 50%) [39]. However, this finding seems to run contrary to a comparative assessment of the 2006/2007 RVF outbreak in Kenya and Tanzania. In the assessment, it was revealed that the Somali pastoralists in Kenya could provide more accurate and detailed clinical descriptions of diseases affecting their livestock, including RVF, than Maasai pastoralists of Tanzania [22]. This was probably due to the educational messages conveyed during the RVF outbreak.



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