Anti-rabies campaign starts in eThekwini

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pretoria - The eThekwini Municipality's Health Unit is embarking on an anti-rabies road show aimed at informing people about the outbreak of rabies and the importance of getting dogs vaccinated.

The campaign follows the recent death of a man from Adams Mission, who suffered from rabies but was not aware that he needed to go to the hospital for medical treatment.

A number of cases have also been reported between January and October in Amanzimtoti, Adams Mission, Athlone Park and KwaMakhutha.

The Municipal Health Unit's Coordinator of Communicable Diseases, Mduduzi Hadebe, stressed the importance of going to the nearest clinic after a dog bite, under any circumstance.

"There is no guarantee what will happen after a dog bite, so I urge people to go to the nearest clinic, hospital, state veterinarian or animal health care technician."

A total of 2 000 vaccines have been donated by the State Veterinary, including 200 syringes and 2 000 needles to the SPCA in Amanzimtoti for the campaign to be effective.

People are urged to take their dogs for vaccination today at the SPCA in Amanzimtoti from 9am to 11am and 1pm to 2.30pm.

Rabies is a viral infection to which all mammals, including man, are susceptible. It causes an acute and almost invariably fatal infection of the brain. Although preventable, rabies results in 55 000 people dying worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organisation and most of those who succumbed to the disease were bitten by rabid dogs.

In South Africa, about 10 laboratory-confirmed human cases per year succumb to human rabies, which is present in all provinces in the country.

Children are the most vulnerable to attacks by infected dogs because they play with them and can be licked or bitten by them.

The early symptoms of rabies in humans may include numbness around the site of the bite, fever, headache and general malaise, later symptoms may include muscle spasms and hydrophobia.

Signs of rabies in animals include fearfulness, aggression, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, staggering and seizures.