16 May 2017 Read: 567
Rabies is a fatal viral disease which can affect all mammals, including humans. In South Africa, the disease is endemic and is primarily carried by dogs and jackals in the northern & eastern areas of the country.
Rabies is typically spread through the saliva-contaminated bite of an infected animal, but may also be transmitted through saliva contamination of the mucous membranes (such as through licking).
Once the virus gains entry into a new host, it spreads along the nervous system until it reaches the brain, upon which symptoms will typically appear.
Behavioural changes, especially aggression and unprovoked attacks, are the most common indicator of rabies in dogs, but symptoms can vary between different species.
A paralytic, or dumb form of the disease is also recognised in which progressive paralysis and profuse salivation occur.
In animals, death typically occurs within 10 days, and five days or less in the case of humans. In humans, rapid administration of the post-exposure prophylactic treatment immediately following exposure to an infected animal is highly effective in preventing the disease from developing. Once symptoms appear however, death is inevitable.
Since rabies is a notifiable disease, the office of the State Vet must be informed of any animal suspected of being infected with the disease.
The animal will have to be euthanized and the brain preserved in order for laboratory confirmation of the disease. The outcome of this test will guide the response which will follow.
The office of the State Vet must also be informed when dogs or cats die from signs of the nervous system as mentioned above. High levels of vaccination of domestic animals, particularly dogs, are required to prevent the rapid spread of the disease following a single case.
Residents of the areas of the Tzaneen, Politsi, George’s Valley, Westfalia, Magoebaskloof, Haenertsburg, Agatha, Lushof areas are requested to bring their dogs & cats for the annual inoculation against Rabies. Free vaccinations of dogs and cats will be offered by the office of the Tzaneen State Vet at various points from 08:30 till 17:30 from Monday 22 May 2017 to Friday 26 May 2017). All residents of the area are urged to utilise the opportunity to prevent any spread of the disease.
Vaccination points in Tzaneen:
1. Tzaneen State Vet Office, 20 Peace Street
2. Tzaneen Dam Jetty 3
3. OK Mini Market (Sugar Loaf)
4. Tzaneen Showgrounds next to Spur
The cooperation of all residents of the Tzaneen municipality is thus requested to prevent the further spread of the disease. For more information, please contact the office of the State Vet in Tzaneen at (015) 307-2800.
Look out for posters with dates for Rabies vaccination for an area near you.