Vaccinate your pets: Western Cape residents urged to be on the lookout for rabies

Cape Town reports first cases in 27 years

25 August 2021 - 10:02 By cebelihle bhengu
Two confirmed cases of rabies have been reported in Khayelitsha. File photo.
Two confirmed cases of rabies have been reported in Khayelitsha. File photo.
Image: Shutterstock

Western Cape pet owners are urged to vaccinate their pets and be on the lookout for rabies after two confirmed cases in Khayelitsha.

The Animal Welfare Society of SA (AWSSA) issued a warning on Tuesday, saying the two dogs tested positive last week.

WHEN LAST DID CAPE TOWN REPORT A RABIES CASE?

The AWSSA said it last witnessed a case of rabies in in the city in 1994.

It is suspected the two pets may have arrived with their owners from other provinces where rabies is prevalent. 

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS?

Western Cape Veterinary Service head Dr Gininda Msiza said rabies is a viral disease affecting animals and people.

“It is transmitted by saliva or other body fluids. A dog or person can be infected by being bitten, scratched or licked by a rabid animal,” said Msiza, who added that preventing the disease is as easy as vaccinating dogs and cats. 

Msiza said behavioural changes such as dogs becoming weak or overly aggressive could be a sign of rabies. Other signs include difficulty swallowing, walking with their mouths open and drooling. 

Owners of suspected rabid animals are advised against touching them. 

Western Cape minister of agriculture Dr Ivan Meyer said officials started vaccinating pets in Khayelitsha and affected areas this week in response to the two reported cases. 

HOW DO I PREVENT IT?

“To avoid the spread of rabies throughout the province, we strongly advise all pet owners to get their dogs or cats vaccinated if they have not received their rabies vaccination in the last three years. Rabies is one of the most deadly zoonoses (infectious diseases transmitted between species from animals to humans),” the Western Cape government warned. 

CAN HUMANS GET RABIES?

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, Africa and Asia have the highest risk of human mortality from rabies, with more than 95% of the world’s fatal cases. The two continents also account for regions where canine rabies are least controlled.

“Around 99% of human cases of rabies are due to bites from infected dogs. Controlling and eradicating rabies, therefore, means combating it at its animal source,” said the organisation.


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