Agriculture Department to clamp down on rabies

2012-06-27 00:00

AS yet another case of rabies in a human has been reported in KwaZulu-Natal, the Agriculture and Environmental Affairs Department is clamping down on pet owners who fail to vaccinate their animals.

Jeffrey Zikhali, spokesperson for the department, said yesterday they are going to court next week to apply for an order that will allow them to search for and seize animals that have not been vaccinated.

Last week, the department warned pet owners to vaccinate them or face legal action.

He said the court order will allow the department to impound animals, take them to the SPCA or put them down. Officials will rely on communities for reports on suspect animals to enforce the order.

This comes as the department intensifies its campaign against the disease in KwaZulu-Natal, where it has gone on an extensive drive to vaccinate animals.

The disease has proved deadly in the past few months, with at least three people dying after contracting rabies.

These were Sinethemba Luyanda Hlongwane (eight) from Maswazini in Bergville, Clementia Cele (52) from Ngonyameni near Umlazi township in Durban, and Graeme Anderson from Underberg.

The latest victim is a four-year-old boy who is currently in a critical condition at a Durban hospital.

He was admitted at the beginning of May showing rabies symptoms after being bitten by two rabid dogs at Ngonyameni.

Zikhali said the boy was not taken to hospital after being bitten the first time. On the second occasion he was taken to hospital and received an injection, but he did not return for further treatment and his condition deteriorated.

He was later hospitalised after showing signs of rabies infection.

Agriculture MEC Meshack Radebe urged pet owners to vaccinate their animals.

“We cannot overemphasise the importance of vaccination after all these tragic incidents.”

The department has so far vaccinated more than 45 000 cats and dogs. This figure excludes private vaccinations and those done by the SPCA.

He said his department was making strides in fighting the disease.

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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