Original Research

Temporal and spatial history of Rift Valley fever in South Africa: 1950 to 2011

Nicolaas J. Pienaar, Peter N. Thompson
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research | Vol 80, No 1 | a384 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ojvr.v80i1.384 | © 2013 Nicolaas J. Pienaar, Peter N. Thompson | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 October 2011 | Published: 05 March 2013

About the author(s)

Nicolaas J. Pienaar, Department of Production Animal Studies, University of Pretoria; Directorate Animal Health, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, South Africa
Peter N. Thompson, Department of Production Animal Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa


Several outbreaks of Rift Valley fever (RVF) have been documented in South Africa since it first occurred in the country in 1950. However, there is no comprehensive account of the timing, location and extent of all known outbreaks. As part of a study investigating the epidemiology of RVF in South Africa, a full history of outbreaks was compiled using references to the disease in South Africa from scientific literature, annual reports, disease reports and animal disease databases. The geographic location and temporal occurrence of each outbreak were recorded as accurately as allowed by the available records. The result was a better and more complete picture than has hitherto been available of the spatial and temporal distribution of RVF in South Africa for the period between 1950 and 2011. Several smaller outbreaks which had not been described previously in literature were documented. Extensive outbreaks occurred in the central interior of the country (Free State, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape provinces), interspersed with smaller outbreaks or long intervening periods of absence, whilst smaller outbreaks occurred in the eastern part of the country (KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Gauteng).


Rift Valley fever; epidemiology; South Africa; spatial; temporal


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