n South African Medical Journal - Clinical alert - Nososcomial transmission of viral haemorrhagic fever in South Africa : forum

Volume 105, Issue 9
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Recent events in West Africa have highlighted the potential for the viral haemorrhagic fevers (VHFs) to cause considerable mortality and morbidity among heathcare workers. However, this is not a new threat as, although the risk is currently increased, it has always been present. In South Africa (SA) the only endemic haemorrhagic fever is Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, transmitted by the Hyalomma tick,which is ubiquitous in cattle farming areas. Johannesburg, the commercial and transport hub of SA, is unusual in that all cases of VHF seen there are imported, either from rural areas in SA or from countries to the north. Johannesburg functions as the gateway to and from the rest of Africa, and as a destination for more affluent residents of neighbouring countries seeking medical attention. Numerous outbreaks of nosocomial infection have occurred in SA, and these are described in the form of brief case reports.

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