GPs' World Cup health warning on Rift Valley fever

GPs have been urged to be wary of disease outbreaks as thousands of England fans head to South Africa this summer for the 2010 World Cup.

Tourists visiting the country have been warned to avoid contact with raw meat and unprocessed milk following an outbreak of Rift Valley fever (RVF) in the region.

The advice comes a month before up to 25,000 English football fans are due to travel to the football competition.

German officials confirmed a case of the disease in a female tourist who had recently returned from South Africa. Her three companions are being treated for similar symptoms.

Health authorities in South Africa have reported 172 human cases and 15 deaths from the latest outbreak of the virus, thought to be acquired from direct contact with infected livestock or meat.

The disease is usually mild and typically causes a sudden onset of flu-like fever, muscle pain, joint pain and headache.

More severe forms occur in about 3% of cases, causing haemorrhaging, vomiting blood and passing blood in faeces. Half of people with such extreme symptoms die.

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