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Rift Valley fever (RVF) is an ecologically complex emerging arboviral disease that causes significant illness in both livestock and people. This review article is designed to assist the reader in understanding the varied aspects of RVF disease in animals and humans. The historical facets of RVF disease, including the evolution of human outbreaks, are presented and discussed. The different clinical presentations of human RVF disease and the underlying causes are then addressed. We explore the exposure and transmission potential of RVF in animals and people. In the concluding section, we discuss the historical role of RVF as a biological weapon. We conclude with an outline of the important unanswered questions for ongoing research into this important zoonotic disease.Rift Valley fever (RVF) is an ecologically complex emerging arboviral disease that causes illness in livestock and people.RVF virus causes a spectrum of clinical outcomes in humans including febrile illness, hemorrhagic fever, and encephalitis.Contact transmission from animals to people is a major route of infection.RVFV infection during pregnancy is likely to result in vertical transmission and possible miscarriage.Emergence of RVF in virgin soil locations is possible given the worldwide distribution of competent mosquito vectors.