The National Institute of Communicable Disease (NICD) reported this morning that of the 52 cases of infected people, 46 cases and 2 deaths are from Free State, 3 in Eastern Cape and 3 in Northern Cape.
Direct contact with RVF-infected livestock and or linked to farms with confirmed animal cases of RVF, remain the main risk factor for the infection. The human cases are farmers, veterinarians and farm workers. Additional suspect cases are currently being tested.
Outbreak investigations by the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries are ongoing, supported by the South African Field Epidemiology and Training Programme (SA-FELTP) and NICD.
The RVF continues to spread far and wide among livestock affecting sheep, goats and cattle on farms within the Free State, Eastern Cape; Northern Cape and Gauteng Provinces.
NICD confirmed this morning that the animal cases have now spread to North West.
Affected farms are primarily clustered within FSP (initially in Lejweleputswa District, Bultfontein area), however animal cases of RVF have been confirmed in all districts with spill over into EC and NC and GP.
RVF is a viral disease that can cause severe disease in a low proportion of infected humans.
The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and causes outbreaks of abortion and deaths of young livestock (sheep, goats and cattle). It is 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.
Clinical features in humans:
Typically illness is asymptomatic or mild in the vast majority of infected persons, and severe disease would be expected to occur in less than 1% of infected persons.
- The incubation period (interval from infection to onset of symptoms) for RVF varies from two to six days;
- sudden onset of flu-like fever and/or muscle pain;
- some patients develop neck stiffness, sensitivity to light, loss of appetite and vomiting; and
- symptoms of RVF usually last from four to seven days, after which time the immune response becomes detectable with the appearance of antibodies and the virus gradually disappears from the blood.
Severe form of RVF in humans includes:
· Vision disturbances;
· intense headache, loss of memory, hallucinations, confusion, disorientation, vertigo, convulsions, lethargy and coma; and
· haemorrhagic fever
The public living in the affected areas is encouraged to seek medical attention at their nearest
Health facilities, should they have any of the above symptoms.
While there is no specific treatment, the majority of persons affected will recover completely. People should 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. There is no routine vaccine available for humans.
Media enquiries; Charity Bhengu, Media Liaison, 0836797424
Media interviews: Dr Frew Benson 0823724199
Dr Patrick Moonasar 0825783107
Dr Charles Mugero 0827175306
ISSUED BY NATIONAL MINISTRY OF HEALTH ON THURSDAY 25 MARCH 2010