Published Date: 2010-03-28 20:00:03
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Rift Valley fever - South Africa (05): (FS, EC, NC, GT, NW)
Archive Number: 20100328.0972
RIFT VALLEY FEVER - SOUTH AFRICA (05): (FREE STATE, EASTERN CAPE,
NORTHERN CAPE, GAUTENG, NORTH WEST)
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Sat 27 Mar 2010
Source: Times Live, SAPA report [edited]
More infected with Rift Valley fever
A total of 3 more people have been infected with Rift Valley fever
(RVF), bringing the total to 63 of laboratory confirmed human cases,
the Department of Health said. Spokeswoman Charity Bhengu said of the
63 cases of infected people, 54 cases and 2 deaths were in the Free
State, 4 in Eastern Cape and 5 in Northern Cape. "Direct contact with
RVF-infected livestock and/or linked to farms with confirmed animal
cases of RVF, remain the main risk factors for the infection. The
human cases are farmers, veterinarians and farm workers. Additional
suspect cases are currently being tested."
Rift Valley fever is a viral disease that can cause severe illness in
a low proportion of infected humans. The virus is transmitted by
mosquitoes and causes outbreaks of abortion and deaths of young
livestock such as sheep, goats and cattle. "It is important to note
that humans become infected by contact with infected tissues of
livestock and less frequently from mosquito bites," said Bhengu.
So far, 70 000 animals have been vaccinated in the Free State to
contain the spread of the virus, according to the Department of
Agriculture. The outbreak investigations by the Department of Health
and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries were
continuing, supported by the SA Field Epidemiology and Training
Programme (SA-FELTP) and the NICD [National Institute for Communicable
The 1st human victim of the sickness was identified in the Free State
on 13 Feb 2010. Since then, the illness has been primarily clustered
within the Lejweleputswa District and Bultfontein area of the Free
State. Animal infections had rapidly spread to most districts with
spillover into the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, North West and Gauteng.
[The number of human cases of Rift Valley fever in South Africa has
increased to 63 from the 47 reported on Wed 24 Mar 2010 (Rift Valley
fever - South Africa (04): (FS, EC, NC, GT, NW) 20100324.0935). The
number of cases in the Free State has increased from 41 to 54, from 3
to 4 in Eastern Cape province and 3 to 5 in Northern Cape province.
The number of fatalities remains 2, both in Free State province.
Animal cases, but so far no human cases, have been recorded in Gauteng
and North West provinces. The outbreak remains centered in Free State
province and it is to be hoped that the emergency vaccination of some
70 000 animals there may halt the spread of the virus.
The vast majority of human infections with Rift Valley fever virus
result from direct or indirect contact with the blood or organs of
infected animals. The virus can be transmitted to humans through the
handling of animal tissue during slaughtering or butchering, assisting
with animal births, conducting veterinary procedures, or from the
disposal of carcasses or fetuses. The virus infects humans through
inoculation; for example, via a wound from an infected knife or
through contact with broken skin, or through inhalation of aerosols
produced during the slaughter of infected animals. There is some
evidence that humans may also become infected by ingesting the
unpasteurized or uncooked milk of infected animals. Less frequently
human infections may result from the bites of infected mosquitoes.
While most human cases of Rift Valley fever are relatively mild, a
small percentage of patients develop a much more severe form of the
disease. This usually appears as one or more of 3 distinct syndromes:
ocular (eye) disease (0.5-2 percent of patients), meningoencephalitis
(less than 1 percent) or haemorrhagic fever (less than 1 percent).
According to the World Health Organisation there has been no evidence
of outbreaks of Rift valley fever in urban areas.
A map of the provinces of South Africa can be accessed at:
The Lejweleputswa region of the Free State can be located via the map at:
The HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map of South Africa is available at: