Recent outbreaks of rift valley fever (RVF) in the Creighton area are under control, and farmers mustn’t panic, reported the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agricultural and Environmental Affairs (DAEA) and the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanalu).
The RVF outbreak has claimed the lives of some 21 animals. A veterinarian indirectly involved in dealing with the outbreak said every animal dying in the area is having samples taken and sent to Onderstepoort for testing.
“This will help authorities see how many farms have contracted RVF,” said the vet. Meanwhile, the DAEA announced the formation of a joint task team of government officials, organised agriculture and community organisations. They are tasked with developing a comprehensive action plan to deal with the outbreak, and other potential outbreaks, in the province.
Vaccination is imperative
A Kwanalu statement said there had been unconfirmed reports of RVF in the Howick and Merrivale areas, but the results of sample tests had yet to be released.
“All farmers should start intensive vaccination programmes,” urged Kwanalu. “Farmers should consult private veterinarians. Sufficient vaccine stocks are available. Farmers are encouraged to restrict animal movement and be cautious of bringing new animals onto farms.”
The last confirmed RVF outbreak in KZN was in the 1970s and many farmers have since stopped annual RVF vaccinations. Vice-chairperson of the KZN Red Meat Producers’ Organisation Allan Chase warned farmers of an outbreak in Mpumalanga as recently as 2007.
He added it wasn’t difficult for infected animals and virus-carrying mosquitoes to find their way into the province.
“All livestock farmers should re-instate regular RVF vaccination programmes,” warned Chase. – Lloyd Phillips