Our experts are spot on

Don't panic.

Don't panic.

The mystery viral haemorrhagic fever that has claimed the lives of three people in Johannesburg is part of a family of the scariest medical conditions known to man.

Victims of these incurable and highly contagious diseases bleed spontaneously inside and out as their blood loses the ability to clot.

But the Department of Health tells us not to panic. They are right. Only those who come in contact with the victims are at risk.

South Africa's foremost medical experts are working with foreign specialists to confine and identify the illness.

Most viral haemorrhagic diseases are hosted by ticks and rodents. They may infect livestock or humans directly. Once these viruses have infected a human they tend to be extremely contagious and are passed on in bodily fluids.

Only those who have been in contact with a victim while the disease raged in his body are at risk. So far none of the 100 or so contacts appears to have been infected.

The only thing we the public can do to prevent outbreaks is to maintain the highest standards of hygiene around our homes: keep rodents away and avoid coming into contact with ticks.

This time our health experts nipped the problem in the bud - and we can only pass on our condolences to the victims' families.