Windhoek — New Rift Valley Fever (RVF) cases have been diagnosed at six farms, including one in the Erongo Region, in addition to farms in the Hardap and Karas regions.
The Directorate of Veterinary Services' surveillance activities have led to the diagnosis on six other farms, bringing the total number of farms to 14.
One of the newly identified farms is in the Erongo Region, two are in the Karas Region, and three in the Hardap Region.
Hardap has the highest number of animals affected by the outbreak, where 11 farms are affected. The outbreak in Erongo is the first of its kind.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry said measures to contain the outbreaks are being implemented with the co-operation of affected farmers. The total number of reported clinical cases so far identified is 67 and 46 deaths from a total population of 9700 small stock on the affected farms.
Clinical signs of infection include abortion, stillbirths, weakness, bloody diarrhoea and difficulty in breathing.
All cases (except on two farms where goats were affected) involve sheep.
"These findings indicate that the disease is not widespread and can be described as sporadic at this stage. This situation can be explained by the prevailing winter conditions that do not favour the survival of the vectors (mosquitoes and biting flies)," a statement by the Directorate of Veterinary Services read. The directorate, however, warns farmers that the disease is likely to cause a widespread epidemic during the next rainy season when vector activity is expected to increase if animals are not vaccinated.
Farmers are therefore urged to vaccinate their livestock - cattle, sheep and goats - during this time.
Control measures that were previously announced remain in place.
The importation of live ruminants, such as cattle, sheep, goats and game into South Africa under a RSA veterinary import permit and health certificate processed by a the Directorate of Veterinary Services of Namibia will be allowed, provided the animals did not pass through a RVF-infected zone during transportation.
Movement of livestock within the country is now permitted subject to a movement permit issued by the Directorate of Veterinary Services, except from farms that are under restriction for Rift Valley Fever or other reasons.
Farms under movement restriction due to RVF will be allowed to move livestock 21 days after vaccination, while no live game animal will be allowed to move from the restricted farms.
The directorate predicts that there is an increased risk of the epidemic during the coming rainy season. All livestock in the Hardap and Karas regions must be vaccinated before the onset of the rains.
In this regard, the Directorate of Veterinary Services will announce measures to be followed with regards to vaccination shortly.
Transporters intending to move animals through Botswana are expected to vaccinate their livestock with an attenuated live vaccine at least 21 days prior to movement.
Prior arrangements with the local State veterinary office must be made to avoid problems.
In the meantime, farmers who have vaccinated or would like to vaccinate their livestock, must inform their State veterinarian three working days prior to vaccination, provide proof of purchase of vaccine and empty vaccine containers.