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.