Residents on the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) South Coast are being urged to have all pets vaccinated amidst a spike in reported rabies cases recently. According to Nicky Koekemoer of 4 Paws and a Tale Rescue, there have been multiple cases of dogs contracting rabies in the area, as well as one case where a person had been bitten by a rabid dog in the street.
“We’ve found that, with the recent hard lockdown, people who would usually have vaccinated their animals have put it off, and the surge in local rabies cases now puts pets - and their owners - at risk,” explained Koekemoer. “In the Amanzimtoti area, there have been three confirmed cases the past two weeks, and we know of a rabid dog in the Umkomaas area, so it is absolutely vital that every pet owner takes responsibility and gets their animals vaccinated; there is no cure for rabies, it is fatal.”
She said that pet owners should also ensure all pets are kept away from on street-facing locations where they’re more vulnerable to passing dogs; and should ensure the property is secure so that there is no chance of wandering dogs entering or exposure to potentially rabid dogs.
What is rabies?
Rabies is a highly contagious, fatal viral disease that can be transmitted through the saliva of dogs to other animals, as well as humans. There are two strains of rabies:
1. Furious Rabies
Infected people will be hyperactive and excitable and may display erratic behaviour. Other symptoms include:
- Excess salivation
- Problems swallowing
- Fear of water
2. Paralytic Rabies
This form of rabies takes longer to set in, but the effects are just as severe. Infected people slowly become paralyzed, will eventually slip into a coma, and die.
What are the signs of rabies in dogs?
It’s important to note that some dogs may not show symptoms of rabies, so it’s important not to interact with any unknown dogs. However, some of the indicators of rabies in dogs are:
- Excessive drooling
- Erratic behaviour
What do you do if you’re bitten?
If you’ve been bitten by a suspected rabid dog, you must thoroughly clean the wound with disinfectant and seek urgent medical care. You will then be given a series of injections to stop infection, including rabies vaccine to prevent you from getting the disease. If left untreated, the rabies infection will be established. Rabies is an incurable disease and, left untreated, is fatal.
“Vaccination of our pets is the only way to prevent the spread of rabies,” said Koekemoer. “We need to all be responsible pet owners to protect one another.”
4 Paws and a Tale Rescue is a Scottburgh-based animal care NPO that feeds, shelters and provides medical care for stray animals. The team of volunteers is committed to prevent abuse of animals, and works to re-home rescued dogs and cats to loving homes around KwaZulu-Natal.