Rift Valley fever outbreak imminent

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 05 January 2011

The heavy rains over the past few weeks have been a welcomed development in water-strapped parts of the country, however, the Free State Agriculture Department has warned of an imminent outbreak of Rift Valley fever.

The Aedes mosquito transmits Rift Valley while feeding on farm animals

“The above average rainfall seen in this past week spells an inevitable consequence of yet another Rift Valley Fever outbreak,” said the department on Tuesday.

The heavy showers cause shallow water surfaces and water pans to become flooded. Combined with warm weather conditions, this promotes the breeding of mosquitoes, which transmit the disease.

According to the World Health Organisation, a specific species of mosquito, the Aedes, transmits this viral disease while feeding on farm animals like sheep, goats and cattle.

The disease leads to the death of newborn lambs and calves and abortions in ewes and cows.

Humans become infected by handling tissues or organs of diseased animals.

The department has emphasised the seriousness of infection in people, saying that at times, it can be life threatening. Symptoms include severe muscle and joint pains, high fever, severe headaches and blurred vision.

The outbreak of Rift Valley fever during 2010 resulted in 232 human cases, 26 of which died from the disease.

Vaccination is the only effective method to protect livestock, and farmers are advised to vaccinate their animals once a year. They should also dip them weekly to control mosquitoes and to use insect repellent sprays or pour-ons.

The public is urged not to handle any sick animals or cut up any dead animals or aborted foetuses. Protective clothing and goggles should be used when touching sick or dead animals.

Source: Bua News

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