Second person suspected to have died from rabies

2012-06-01 00:00

A SECOND person has died after showing symptoms of rabies.

Clementia Cele (52) of Engonyameni outside Umlazi died last Friday and officials suspect that she might have been infected by the deadly viral disease rabies.

However, the Agriculture and Environmental Department said a postmortem is still to be conducted.

According to the department, if the results are positive, she will be the second person in KwaZulu-Natal to have succumbed to the deadly viral disease in the past few weeks.

Eight-year-old Snethemba Hlongwane of Bergville was buried on weekend after dying of the disease.

The department said Cele was bitten by her neighbour’s dog two months ago but didn’t think much of it. She didn’t seek any medical help.

“We’re told that she started scratching the wound, she became hydrophobic and had a difficulty in swallowing saliva,” department spokesperson Jeffrey Zikhali said.

She was admitted to hospital last Thursday and died the following day.

Zikhali said Cele was groaning like a dog and biting herself. He said the dog might still be on the loose.

“This is an outbreak and should be treated as such. This is a disaster in the province,” he added.

Underberg farmer and canoeist Graeme Anderson (29) is still in under a ventilator in hospital fighting for survival.

“Anderson is still the same. There’s no real change.

“We’ll just have to see what transpires,” said Grant Lindsay, a medical doctor who is the Anderson family’s spokesperson. Anderson fell ill after taking in a stray dog that later died.

Lindsay told The Witness that he has heard about another rabies case in the Ukhahlamba Local Municipality and fears there will be more.

A rabies vaccination campaign is currently underway in the Winterton-Bergville area and at Loskop.

More areas are expected to be visited across the province.

The PMB Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) said they haven’t had cases of rabies, but they have received many calls from people who want to vaccinate their dogs.

SPCA’s Maureen Vida said they had run out of rabies vaccine, but are expecting 2 000 units today.

The department has dedicated R15 million from the United Nations World Health Organisation for the vaccination campaign, along with an awareness campaign.

The Agriculture and Environmental Department said it is expecting to vaccinate 300 000 dogs in KZN.

• gabisile.ngcobo@witness.co.za

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