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Circulation of Rift Valley Fever Virus Antibody in Cattle during Inter-Epizootic/Epidemic Periods in Selected Regions of Tanzania

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  • 1 Department of Microbiology, Parasitology, and Biotechnology, College of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania;
  • | 2 Department of Veterinary Surgery and Theriogenology, College of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania;
  • | 3 University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, Texas
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Tanzania is one of the sub-Saharan countries that have experienced a number of Rift Valley fever (RVF) outbreaks at intervals of 10–20 years since the first isolation of the virus during the early 1930s. Recent studies have reported serological evidence of inter epizootic/epidemic period circulation of RVF virus (RVFV) in livestock and humans. The aim of this study was to conduct a cross-sectional survey in Tanzania during 2015/16 to further explore the possibility that RVFV was circulating among cattle during the Inter epizootic/epidemic period. A total of 443 cattle samples were collected in Manyara, Dodoma, Singida, and Mbeya regions of Tanzania. The samples were tested for RVFV antibodies using a commercial ELISA kit and a plaque reduction neutralization test. Serum samples were also tested for RVFV viral RNA by an reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay. An overall RVFV seroprevalence rate of 7.7% (34/443) was detected by ELISA among cattle in all four regions. The Mbeya region cattle had the highest seroprevalence of 26.4% (23/87), followed by Dodoma 5.9% (10/171) and lastly Singida 0.9% (1/101). Of 33 ELISA antibody-positive samples, only 0.2% (1/443) had IgM antibody. Of 36 ELISA antibody-positive and doubtful samples, 32 were positive for neutralizing antibody with titers between 10 and > 10,240. None of the samples were positive for RVFV viral RNA by RT-PCR. The detection of RVFV antibodies in cattle suggested that these animals were involved in an enzootic cycle during the interepidemic period and that the high antibody titers may confer protection of cattle against RVFV.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Linda Peniel Salekwa, Department of Microbiology, Parasitology, and Biotechnology, College of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Sokoine University of Agriculture, P.O. Box 3019, Morogoro, Tanzania. E-mail: lisasalekwa2015@gmail.com

Financial support: This study was funded under a subcontract from the University of Texas at El Paso under a Cooperative Agreement (AID-OAA-A-13-00084) from the United States Agency for International Development.

Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Agency for International Development or the United States Government.

Authors’ addresses: Linda Peniel Salekwa and Philemon Nyangi Wambura, Department of Microbiology, Parasitology, and Biotechnology, College of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania, E-mails: lisasalekwa2015@gmail.com and pwambura@sua.ac.tz. Mirende Kichuki Matiko, Department of Veterinary Surgery and Theriogenology, College of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania, E-mail: mirende@sua.ac.tz. Douglas M. Watts, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, E-mail: dwatts2@utep.edu.

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