Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is an acute, zoonotic viral disease caused by a Phlebovirus, which belongs to the Bunyaviridae family. Among livestock, outbreaks of the disease are economically devastating. They are often characterised by large, sweeping abortion storms and have significant mortality in adult livestock. The aim of the current study was to investigate RVFV infection in the Kigoma region, which is nestled under the hills of the western arm of the Great Rift Valley on the edge of Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania. A region-wide serosurvey was conducted on non-vaccinated small ruminants (sheep and goats, n = 411). Sera samples were tested for the presence of anti-RVFV antibodies and viral antigen, using commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, respectively. The overall past infections were detected in 22 of the 411 animals, 5.4% (Confidence Interval (CI) 95% = 3.5% – 8.1%). The Kigoma rural area recorded the higher seroprevalence of 12.0% (CI 95% = 7.3% – 18.3%; p < 0.0001), followed by Kibondo at 2.3% (CI 95% = 0.5% – 6.5%; p > 0.05) and the Kasulu district at 0.8% (CI 95% = 0.0% – 4.2%; p > 0.05). The prevalence was 12.5% and 4.7% for sheep and goats, respectively. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction results indicated that only eight samples were found to be positive (n = 63). This study has confirmed, for the first time, the presence of the RVFV in the Kigoma region four years after the 2007 epizootic in Tanzania. The study further suggests that the virus activity exists during the inter-epizootic period, even in regions with no history of RVFV.
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