This followed an outbreak of the disease being confirmed on a farm in the Jacobsdal area in the Free State.

According to a statement issued by DAFF, the widespread increase in rainfall had resulted in an escalation in mosquito populations. Rift Valley fever is caused by a virus carried by mosquitoes and affects cattle, sheep and goats, resulting in spontaneous abortion and death, especially in young animals.

“All livestock farmers in South Africa [should] vaccinate all their cattle, sheep and goats [every year] or at least once during weaning.” However, the ‘live vaccine’ should only be used for animals that were not in gestation, as it could cause spontaneous abortion.

Care should also be taken when administering the vaccine as the virus could be spread between animals during the incubation period, according to the statement.

As humans could also be infected with the disease if they came into contact with the blood and other body fluids of an infected animal or an aborted foetus, care should be taken when handling possibly infected animals or carcasses, DAFF said.

“Rift Valley Fever is a notifiable animal disease, but not a controlled disease, meaning that there are no prescribed control measures,” the statement added. Farmers in affected areas can contact state veterinary services for support and information.

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