RVF spreads in Free State, N Cape

RIFT Valley Fever continues to spread in the Free State and Northern Cape. So far 21 cases, including that of two men who died, have been confirmed by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD).

Rift Valley Fever (RVF) is a viral infection often found in livestock. In animals the virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and results in outbreaks of abortion and death.

Humans usually contract the virus through infected livestock.

The national Department of Health has appealed to farmers and those in the affected areas to be cautious when dealing with livestock.

Departmental spokesperson Charity Bhengu said: "RVF is a notifiable medical condition and should be reported to your local department of health. Treatment guidelines have been given to health facilities. The predominant treatment is generally supportive.

"Standard infection control precautions have also been emphasised. Rift Valley Fever can be prevented through public health education and risk reduction."

The first case of Rift Valley Fever was reported on February 13.

Two people from Free State have since died.

Bhengu said: "Most of the cases reported direct contact with RVF-infected livestock and-or linked to farms with confirmed animal cases of RVF.

"The human cases are farmers, veterinarians and farm workers. Additional suspect cases are currently being tested.

"Outbreak investigations by the Department of Health and Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries are ongoing and are being supported by the South African Field Epidemiology and Training Programme and NICD."