Human cases of RVF confirmed

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pretoria - At least 21 human cases of River Valley Fever (RVF) including two deaths have been confirmed in Free State.

As of 15 March 2010, the Department of Health confirmed a total of 22 human cases of RVF including one in Northern Cape.

The cases include farmers, veterinarians and farm workers, who had direct contact with RVF-infected livestock or linked to farms with confirmed RVF animal cases.

Deputy Minister for Health, Dr Molefi Sefularo, on Monday said while there is no specific treatment, the majority of people who are exposed to the disease have a good chance to recover completely.

He advised people to avoid contact with the tissues of infected animals, refrain from drinking unpasteurised milk and prevent mosquito bites to avoid becoming infected.

"Farmers and veterinarians should wear protective clothing when handling sick animals or their tissues," Sefularo said, noting that there is no routine vaccine available for humans.

He further warned that an ongoing outbreak of RVF affecting sheep, goats and cattle on farms is also spreading within the Free State, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape Provinces.

RVF is transmitted by mosquitoes and causes unplanned termination of gestation and deaths of young livestock.

Key symptoms of RVF in humans include sudden onset of flu-like fever and/or muscle pain. Some patients develop neck stiffness, sensitivity to light, loss of appetite and vomiting. The symptoms usually last from four to seven days.

Severe symptoms of RVF in humans include vision disturbances, intense headache, loss of memory, hallucinations, confusion, disorientation, vertigo, convulsions, lethargy and coma and
Haemorrhagic Fever

People living in the affected areas are encouraged to seek medical attention health facilities, should they experience any of the above symptoms.