The Rift Valley fever case in Jacobsdal is an isolated case and the risk of it being spread is very low. This is according to Nelius Ferreira of the Free State Animal Health Forum. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries confirmed the occurrence of Rift Valley fever at one farm in the Jacobsdal area in the Free State. So far, it is the only farm reported to be affected and further investigations are being carried out by the local veterinary services.
The re-occurrence of Rift Valley fever or RVF is due to increased rainfall, which in turn causes an increase in mosquitoes. According to Ferreira the fact that the outbreak has occurred at the beginning of winter, means that chances are good that it will remain an isolated case. “Winter has arrived and hopefully we will soon see enough frost to kill all mosquitoes and midges that spread the disease.”
He does however remind us of 2010, when a large-scale outbreak in summer was followed an isolated case in winter. “To prevent a repeat of this, all animals have to be vaccinated against the disease during the coming winter months.” Vaccination remains the best defence against Rift Valley fever and annual immunisation must be a standard practice on the farm. Just as important, is reporting possible cases. “Report all sudden deaths and abortions to your local veterinarian and state veterinarian,” he advises.
Ferreira also puts the consumer at ease. “According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) it is a zoonotic disease that can only be spread to humans through mosquito bites, if one comes into contact with bodily fluids or tissue of Rift Valley fever infected animals or foetuses or by consuming unpasteurised milk or meat from RVF-infected animals.” He emphasises that red meat available on retail shelves are safe for human consumption and that infected carcasses will not pass meat inspections. “As long as you buy meat from a trusted butchery or supermarket, it will be safe to eat.”
“Neither producers nor consumers have reason for concern. Producers must remain calm and take control of what they can manage. This means immunising all animal against the disease every year.” – Marike Brits, AgriOrbit