The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) would like to remind livestock owners to vaccinate their animals against Rift Valley Fever (RVF), a viral disease most commonly seen in domesticated animals in sub-Saharan Africa, such as cattle, sheep and goats. It is reported that the disease leads to abortion and death and that it is caused by a virus and spread by mosquitos.
The department said, in a statement, that the current rainfall predictions indicate that good rainfall might occur in certain areas of the country as a result of a La Niña weather phenomenon. This will result in an increase in the numbers of mosquitoes. RVF is a serious viral disease that is spread by mosquitoes that can carry the disease from infected animals to healthy animals. RVF may cause abortions and deaths in cattle, sheep and goats.
People can get RVF through contact with blood, body fluids, or tissues of infected animals, or through bites from infected mosquitoes. It is reported that people get sick two to six days after getting into contact with the RVF virus. They show flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle pain, back ache, weakness and dizziness but some people may get more severe diseases or even die.
Farmers are therefore advised to vaccinate all cattle, sheep and goats against Rift Valley Fever. Live vaccine (OBP Live) must only be used on non-pregnant animals as the live vaccine can cause abortions. Only dead/inactivated (OBP) vaccine must be used on pregnant animals. It is the responsibility of the animal owners to vaccinate their animals to prevent death of their animals leading to financial losses.
People, most especially farmers can protect themselves by not slaughtering sick animals or eating meat from sick animals; they must wear masks and gloves when slaughtering animals or when working with animal tissues such as meat, blood or an aborted calf or lamb; and also boil or pasteurise milk before use and cook meat well before eating it.
Farmers are advised to contact the nearest State Veterinarian or an Animal Health Technician if they have any suspicion of the RVF disease.