animal fever 'contained'

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

The outbreak of Rift Valley Fever diagnosed last week on farms in the Ixopo area has been contained, say leaders of provincial agricultural groups.

State veterinarians confirmed the outbreak, but the deaths of cattle in the area are still being investigated.

A task team of government officials, the KwaNalu and Nafu agricultural unions, and community organisations is developing a plan to deal with the viral disease of livestock, which can also spread to humans.

The disease is spread by mosquitoes.

"We want to assure the public that the situation is under control," said Sandy La Sarque of KwaNalu.

"The three farms that were affected are being monitored.

"Rift Valley Fever is uncommon and is related to climatic conditions.

"At this stage we are speculating that it may have been spread by mosquitos. However, there is a slim chance that humans will be affected."

She said a sustained vaccination programme was under way on all the neighbouring farms to prevent the disease from spreading.

"We will know by the middle of the week if the deaths in the Creighton area are as a result of Rift Valley Fever, but the vaccination programme is under way to prevent further outbreaks."

Khulekani Ntshangasi of the department of agriculture said the disease could cause severe illness in animals and humans.

"The virus was first identified in 1931 during an investigation into an epidemic among sheep on a farm in the Rift Valley of Kenya.

"Since then, outbreaks have been reported in sub-Saharan and north Africa," Ntshangasi said.