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Rift Valley Fever outbreak in Eastern Cape

2011-01-26 19:36

Johannesburg - There has been an outbreak of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) in the Graaff Reinet and Kei Mouth, the Eastern Cape agriculture department said on Wednesday.

State veterinarians confirmed the death of three sheep in Kei Mouth and a cow in Graaff-Reinet, spokesperson Thozi Manyisana said.

"The State vets are working around the clock to find out the extent of the outbreak," he said.

Control measures had been applied. These included:

- Vaccination of susceptible stock using a new needle for each animal.

- Immediate notification needed to be given of all mortalities, abortions and illness to local animal health technicians or state veterinarians.

- Carcasses, foetuses or products may not be destroyed or tampered with unless authorised by state vets and must be burnt or buried.

- Precautions must be taken when handling sick animals, foetuses or carcasses. Minimum protective clothing should include gloves, goggles, overalls and boots.

- Additional control measures should include weekly spraying of stock with fly and mosquito control remedy, moving of animals away from standing water and moving of animals to high altitude areas.

According to vets RVF was a viral zoonosis endemic (infectious disease in animals) to Africa, which primarily affected animals but had the capacity to affect humans, Manyisana said.

"RVF caused large epizootics with high mortality rates in young animals and abortions of pregnancies in ruminants. The epizootics typically occurred following periods of heavy rainfall that promoted the hatching of mosquito eggs carrying the RVF virus," he said.

Symptoms of infected animals included but were not limited to high lamb, kid or calf mortality, abortions, icterus, bloody diarrhoea, nose bleeding, fever and deaths.

Manyisana said humans may become affected through contact with blood and other body fluids from the infected animals. Meat from a sick animal should not be eaten.