Livestock deaths prompt RVF warning

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pretoria - Farmers in the areas affected by the Rift Valley Fever (RVF) are urged to immediately vaccinate their animals and avoid opening carcasses they suspect died of the fever.

Four out of the 14 cattle that contracted RVF at Colesberg Farm in Northern Cape have been confirmed dead.

Provincial MEC for Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Norman Shushu said suspected cases have also emerged at Richmond, Prieska, Douglas and Carnavon farms, where 30 lambs were reported dead in one farm and others reported livestock deaths.

Shushu said samples had been collected and authorities were awaiting results. No human cases have been confirmed in the province as the suspected case from Colesberg tested negative.

Various provincial government departments have embarked on a campaign to curb the outbreak.

A communicable disease team has been dealing with farming community enquiries in Kimberly and also tracking developments regarding the outbreak.

"State veterinarians across the province have been following up on reported cases and keeping full contact with the operational centre," Shushu said.

A stakeholder consultation with veterinary services has also taken place to update the Red Meat Producers Organization in the province.

"Through the assistance of industry, three SMSes were sent to livestock farmers appealing for them to report suspected deaths; the response was overwhelming and we are following up," said Shushu.

RVF affects cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats and humans in Africa. It is spread mainly by infected mosquitoes and often appears during years of heavy rainfall.

People can get RVF if they are exposed to blood or other body fluids of infected animals; this can happen during the slaughtering or handling of infected animal carcasses and aborted foetuses.