Five more human Rift Valley fever cases confirmed

2010-03-24 13:26

Forty-seven people had confirmed cases of Rift Valley Fever (RVF)

by today, while the disease amongst livestock has spread to the North West


Ministry of health spokeswoman Charity Bhengu said the five new

cases were reported by the National Institute of Communicable Disease


The Free State has the most confirmed cases with 41, while there

were three in the Eastern Cape and three in the Northern Cape.

Two people had died due to the sickness in the Free State since the

outbreak amongst 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

of RVF.

“It remains the main risk factor for the infection,” Bhengu said in

a statement.

The human cases were farmers, veterinarians, farm workers or their

immediate family.

Bhengu said additional suspected cases were being tested for


She said investigations into the outbreak by the departments of

health and forestry and fisheries were ongoing.

They were supported by the SA Field Epidemiology and Training

Programme and the NICD.

The viral disease, which was first detected in the Free State’s

Lejweleputswa District and Bultfontein area, had spread to the Eastern Cape, the

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 deaths 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 the majority of

people affected would recover completely.

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