Health

Rift Valley Fever – first human death in Western Cape

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed today that a 49-year old male from the Karoo has been the first human to die from Rift Valley Fever in the Western Cape. He died in Oudtshoorn Hospital. The NICD is still investigating the patient’€™s source of exposure. It is unsure in which manner he contracted the disease. There have been confirmed cases of Rift Valley Fever in animals in the Oudtshoorn area.

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture also confirmed today that two alpaca’€™s have died from Rift Valley Fever on a farm in Simondium, outside Paarl in the Western Cape. This is the latest confirmed case of Rift Valley Fever in animals in the Province, and also the first case in the south western part of the Western Cape Province. Visit www.oie.int for more information on the spread of the disease in animals.

Western Cape Health Minister, Theuns Botha, said that health workers at hospitals and provincial health facilities in the Karoo and Boland have been alerted to lookout for symptoms of Rift Valley Fever among patients who visit their facilities. Symptoms among humans include flu-like fever, muscle pain, joint pain and headache.   People, who have been exposed to raw meat sourced from possible infected animals, can be at risk, as well as people who have consumed upasteurized milk from potentially infected animals.

Botha added ‘€œThis is not a disease that can spread from human to human, but only when humans are exposed to the blood of potentially infected animals, or the unpasteurized milk of potentially infected animals.’€

Gerrit van Rensburg, Western Cape Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development reiterated that all livestock farmers in the Province should vaccinate their animals against this disease, as prevention is the only effective management measure. He said that winter is upon us, and that the cooler weather should see to a decline in mosquito activity and the subsequent prevalence of Rift Valley Fever. None the less: ‘€œRather be safe than sorry’€, Van Rensburg added.

The Department of Agriculture suspects that the movement of infected animals could have been the cause of the disease’€™s appearance in the Paarl area. According to the Department of Agriculture, this is an isolated case.

Van Rensburg said that the Department of Agriculture is working hand in hand with the Department of Health on all matters pertaining to Rift Valley Fever, as animal cases will most likely be the precursor to possible human cases.

To date, animal cases of Rift Valley Fever have been contained to the northern parts of the Western Cape and two isolated cases in the Oudtshoorn area. Three laboratory confirmed incidents of Rift Valley Fever have so far been reported: two heads of cattle north of Beaufort West; 11 sheep in the Nelspoort area, and 25 sheep and 45 abortions in the Murraysburg area. Clinically identified, but laboratory unconfirmed, animal mortalities include 200 sheep and 100 ewe abortions in the Beaufort West, Murraysburg and Oudtshoorn areas.

ENDS

Jointly issued by the Ministry of Health: Western Cape & Ministry of

Agriculture: Western Cape

Media enquiries:   Health

                                  Hélène Rossouw

                                  herossou@pgwc.gov.za

                                  082 771 8834 or 021 483 4426

                                 

                                  Agriculture

                                  Wouter Kriel

                                  wouterkriel@gmail.com

                                  079 694 3085 or 021 483 4700

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