Pet lovers urged to get dogs vaccinated as rabies outbreak is confirmed
Two people have been exposed so far to a rabies outbreak confirmed by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in Gauteng's Muldersdrift and surrounding areas."Rabies has been confirmed in the past month in four jackals and one unvaccinated domestic dog in Muldersdrift‚ Kromdraai and Lanseria‚ Gauteng province.Rabies kills jackals in JoburgTwo wild jackals have died from rabies in Muldersdrift, north of Johannesburg. At least two human exposures have been reported and both persons received appropriate preventative treatment to prevent disease‚" the NICD said on Tuesday."Rabies is uniformly fatal in animals and humans. Post exposure prevention can‚ however‚ prevent rabies disease developing in persons bitten or scratched by a potentially rabid animal if given timeously and correctly."Thorough wound cleaning is critical and post-exposure prophylaxis with a course of rabies vaccine and rabies immunoglobulin into the wound according to the national guidelines may be life-saving‚ the NICD statement said.Jackal rabies is well documented in South Africa and periodic increases in cases are reported‚ the institute said.In the past year‚ jackal rabies has been reported from North West and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.A similar incident occurred in 2009 when rabies was confirmed in a domestic dog in the Johannesburg suburb of Linden‚ with 42 domestic dogs subsequently contracting rabies in south-western Johannesburg.An intensive dog vaccination campaign has been launched by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.The NICD said while rabies in domestic animals in suburban areas of Johannesburg and surrounds is uncommon‚ these incidents are an important reminder that vaccination of domestic dogs and cats is required by law and is the responsibility of the owners.Dogs and cats must be vaccinated against rabies in the first year of life and then at least every three years.While dog bites are common in Gauteng and usually relate to security incidents‚ a rabies risk must be considered in the following circumstancesbites or scratches or licks of mouth‚ eyes and nose from unusually tame wild animals‚bites that would seem to be unprovoked‚the animal is a stray‚the animal is ill oran unusually aggressive domestic animal."The rabies-infected jackals have appeared unusually tame‚ and persons are warned not to approach or handle these animals‚" the institute said.