Outbreak of Rift Valley Fever
May 22, 2018
An isolated outbreak of Rift Valley fever has been detected on a single farm in the Jacobsdal area of Free State, South Africa, bordering Northern Cape.
A total of 250 sheep deaths/abortions were documented and laboratory confirmed on 16 May 2018. No human cases have been detected thus far. A widespread RVF epidemic occurred in South Africa in 2010-2011 with more than 14,000 animal cases recorded in 8 of 9 provinces. During this period the NICD confirmed a total of 278 human cases, of which 25 were fatal. The majority of humans infected during the 2010-2011 outbreak were farm workers and animal health personnel exposed through direct contact with infected animals. No specific approved treatment is available for RVF and clinical management comprises general supportive therapy.
Public health education and risk reduction play a vital role in preventing human infections, aimed mainly at minimizing unprotected contact with potentially infected animals. Prevention of RVF outbreaks primarily relies on the prevention of infection in livestock through vaccination, but this should rather be done routinely than during an outbreak. A decline in RVF transmission was noted during the colder winter months of the 2010-2011 epidemic.
Nevertheless, following the confirmed animal cases in Jacobsdal in May 2018, all healthcare workers must be aware of RVF and be vigilant for patients who meet the case definition and, in such instances, submit specimens to the NICD-NHLS for laboratory testing.
National Institute for Communicable Diseases