Rift Valley Fever no threat to World Cup

THE Health Department has assured visiting soccer World Cup fans that they are not in danger of contracting Rift Valley Fever.

"Visitors will be at risk if they handled infected carcasses on farms or handled raw meat from infected animals," the department said.

Spokesperson Charity Bhengu said: "The National Institute of Communicable Diseases laboratory has reported that there is a total of 149 confirmed human cases of Rift Valley Fever.

"Of these, 100 cases are from Free State, 38 cases from Northern Cape, eight from the Eastern Cape, one from North West and two whose history is still unknown.

"The Departments of Health, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, supported by the South African Field Epidemiology and Training Programme and NICD are responding to the outbreak," Bhengu said.

Rift Valley Fever was first detected in the country in February.

It is a viral disease and the virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. It causes outbreaks of abortion and deaths of young livestock - sheep, goats and cattle.

Bhengu added that the department's outbreak response team was working round the clock to control the spread of RVF ahead of the June 11 World Cup kick-off.

She said measures include controlling the formal meat supply by excluding the affected areas from the food chain in abattoirs and the vaccination of animals with the RVF virus.

Symptoms of RVF usually last four to seven days.

Bhengu said farmers and veterinarians should wear protective clothing when handling sick animals or their tissue.