More cases of Rift Fever confirmed

FORTY-SEVEN people had been confirmed to have been infected with Rift Valley Fever by yesterday, while the disease among livestock has spread to North West.

FORTY-SEVEN people had been confirmed to have been infected with Rift Valley Fever by yesterday, while the disease among livestock has spread to North West.

Ministry of Health spokesperson Charity Bhengu said the five new cases were reported by the National Institute of Communicable Disease (NICD).

The Free State has the most confirmed cases with 41, while there were three in Eastern Cape and three in Northern Cape.

Two people in the Free State have died from the sickness since the outbreak among livestock in February this year.

Bhengu said most of the cases followed direct contact with RVF-infected livestock or could be linked to farms with confirmed animal cases.

"It remains the main risk factor for the infection," Bhengu said.

The human cases were farmers, veterinarians, farmworkers or their immediate family.

Bhengu said additional suspected cases were being tested for RVF.

She said investigations into the outbreak by the departments of health and forestry and fisheries were ongoing. They were supported by the South African Field Epidemiology and Training Programme and NICD.

The viral disease, which was first detected in the Free State's Lejweleputswa district and Bultfontein area, had spread to Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Gauteng.

Animal cases had now also spread to North West.

RVF is a viral disease that can be severe in a low proportion of infected humans. The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and causes outbreaks of abortion and death of young livestock such as sheep, goats and cattle.

Bhengu said it was important to note that humans become infected from contact with infected tissues of livestock and, less frequently, from mosquito bites.

The disease occurs throughout Africa and Madagascar when exceptionally heavy rains favour the breeding of the mosquito vectors.

There is no specific treatment for humans but most people affected recover completely. - Sapa

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