Rift Valley Fever reported in N-Cape

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pretoria - The Northern Cape Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has confirmed the occurrence of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) in cattle at a Kakamas farm near Upington.

The department's Directorate of Veterinary Services confirmed the case amid five cattle out of 19 dying over a period of a week at the farm.

Rift Valley Fever is a viral zoonosis, affecting primarily domestic livestock; however, it can be passed to humans, causing fever.

It is named after a trough stretching 4 000 miles from Jordan through eastern Africa to Mozambique. The disease is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes, typically the Aedes or Culex genera to susceptible animals.

The virus affects younger animals more severely. More than 90 percent of lambs infected with RVF die, whereas mortality among adult sheep can be as low as 10 percent. Other symptoms in cattle include slow movement and lack of energy, high fever and rapid breathing, vomiting.

The department's MEC Norman Shushu expressed confidence that with the case remaining localised and the situation being under very strict monitoring and control, food security will not be compromised.

He called for the directorate of veterinary to step up its efforts in ensuring that a dynamic interface unfolds in an effort to ensure sufficient information reaches the immediate farming community.

Shushu said meetings should be held with farmer unions and commodity groupings; and that farmers apply mosquito repellents and move animals to higher grounds and avoid areas with stagnant water.

The MEC also ordered that movement of livestock must be restricted as this will assist in slowing down the spread of the virus to unaffected areas.

Communities coming into contact with sick animals or material such as aborted fetuses should call the local state veterinarian on (054) 332-1531.