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Risk factors of Rift Valley Fever in Jazan, Asir and Qunfudah, September 2001.


Rift Valley Fever (RVF) is a viral disease that affects domestic animals and humans. In humans, Rift Valley Fever causes a flu-like disease but occasionally leads to high morbidity and mortality. The disease is generally known in the African continent. However, cases started to appear in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. In Saudi Arabia cases were reported from three regions: from Jazan, Asir, and Qunfudah. The objective of this study is to learn more about the extent of exposure of the study population to the risk factors and the .epidemiological features of the population in the affected three regions and to find out the latent existence of the disease.


The study took place in three regions; Jazan, Asir, and Qunfudah. It was conducted using a cross sectional study design. Multistage random sampling was conducted to select the study population in each of the three regions; initially to select the governorate in the region, then to select the health care center within the governorate, then randomly select sample of persons in each health center. A pre-structured questionnaire was completed by interview with each individual of the study population and the clinical case definition was used.


The total study population was 3687, among them 1250 were from Jazan, 1238 from Asir, and 1199 from Qunfudah. The total number of males was 1572 (42.6%). Saudis represented the major component of the study population, with a total number of 3569 (96.8%), in addition to 39 Yemenis (1.1%) and 79 other nationalities (2.1%). The mean age (± SD) was 25.5 years (± 18.3). A total of 2586 (70.1%) reported that they have animals; and 1951 (52.9%) reported direct exposure to animals. A large number of the study population reported having mosquitoes at their residences (3081 or 86.6%), and 2880 (78.1%) individuals reported history of mosquitoes bites. The total number of cases according to the clinical case definition was 155, representing 4.2% of the total study population; among them 130 (83.9%) were from Jazan, 10 (6.5%) from Asir, and 15 (9.7%) from Qunfudah.


This study reveals that these three affected regions experience considerable but comparable degrees of exposure to the known risk factors of RVF; mainly through exposure to animals or mosquitoes, which implies a potential threat for the emergence of future outbreaks. Animal exposure and related practices seem to play principal roles in the development of RVF compared to mosquitoes. Male gender, age above 20 years, rural and illiterate people are at higher degrees of exposure and are therefore at increased risk of the disease.