RVF fears flare up

Colder winter weather has slowed down Rift Valley fever (RVF), but outbreaks could start again in early summer, warned veterinarian Jannie van der Merwe at the Western Cape Milk Producers’ Organisation’s annual meeting in Malmesbury.

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He urged livestock and dairy farmers to vaccinate all animals as soon as possible and said calves and lambs needed to be vaccinated six months after birth.

RVF outbreaks in 2009 and earlier this year affected around 10 000 animals, resulting in more than 6 300 mortalities. But it was difficult to determine exactly how many animals were affected because farmers don’t report all incidences, said Van der Merwe.

He said an estimated 90% of all livestock in the Western Cape have been vaccinated for the disease, but shortages of vaccine early in 2010 slowed down distribution.

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At a parliamentary meeting in May, acting director general of agriculture Peter Thabete said Onderstepoort had been instructed to produce vaccine in bulk to ensure sufficient stock for October/November 2010.