Rift Valley Fever not a crisis - Sefularo

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pretoria - The outbreak of the Rift Valley Fever (RVF) in the Free State and Northern Cape provinces does not constitute a crisis, says Health Deputy Minister, Dr Molefi Sefularo.

RVF is a fever-causing viral disease mainly affecting domestic animals such as cattle and goats, which can be transmitted to humans, mostly through handling of sick, dead or aborted foetuses.

Sefularo said good surveillance systems were in place to determine the cause, notify, control and manage the outbreak. The department is working closely with the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) and National Health Laboratory Services.

"At this stage, the Department of Health's National and Provincial Outbreak Response Teams, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and the NICD, are responding well to the outbreak.

"I would like to place it on record that this occurrence does not constitute a crisis. The outbreak is being contained," said Sefularo.

Sefularo said to date, a total of seven human cases and one death have been confirmed in the Free State and Northern Cape. A 45-year-old, who was admitted to a hospital on 26 February, was provisionally diagnosed with Congo fever died a day later. Confirmation that it was RVF was only made on 4 March.

The six others, who have mild cases, continue to be under observation and treatment.

Sefularo said as of 4 March, 15 farms reported laboratory confirmed animal cases with extensive livestock deaths. Most of the affected farms were primarily within the central Free State (Lejweleputswa District, Bultfontein area) however other districts have confirmed RVF.

He also appealed to communities in both provinces to avoid the unsafe consumption of fresh blood, raw milk or animal tissue urging communities to thoroughly cook all animal before consumption.