Genetic analysis of viruses associated with emergence of Rift Valley fever in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, 2000-01

Trevor Shoemaker, Carla Boulianne, Martin J. Vincent, Linda Pezzanite, Mohammed M. Al-Qahtani, Yagub Al-Mazrou, Ali S. Khan, Pierre E. Rollin, Robert Swanepoel, Thomas G. Ksiazek, Stuart T. Nichol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

218 Scopus citations


The first confirmed Rift Valley fever outbreak outside Africa was reported in September 2000, in the Arabian Peninsula. As of February 2001, a total of 884 hospitalized patients were identified in Saudi Arabia, with 124 deaths. In Yemen, 1,087 cases were estimated to have occurred, with 121 deaths. Laboratory diagnosis of Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) infections included virus genetic detection and characterization of clinical specimens by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, in addition to serologic tests and virus isolation. Genetic analysis of selected regions of virus S, M, and L RNA genome segments indicated little genetic variation among the viruses associated with disease. The Saudi Arabia and Yemen viruses were almost identical to those associated with earlier RVF epidemics in East Africa. Analysis of S, M, and L RNA genome segment sequence differences showed similar phylogenetic relationships among these viruses, indicating that genetic reassortment did not play an important role in the emergence of this virus in the Arabian Peninsula. These results are consistent with the recent introduction of RVFV into the Arabian Peninsula from East Africa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1415-1420
Number of pages6
JournalEmerging infectious diseases
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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