Third of dogs tested have rabies

2012-05-28 00:00

UNDERBERG farmer and canoeist Graeme Anderson (29) is the first person in South Africa to undergo special rabies treatment.

Known as the Milwaukee Protocol treatment, it involves putting the patient into a chemically induced coma and administering antiviral drugs.

However, Grant Lindsay, a medical doctor who is the Anderson family’s spokesperson, said he has only a five percent chance of survival.

In 2004, Jeanna Giese (15) of Wisconsin, United States, became the first of only six patients known to have survived symptomatic rabies this way, without receiving the rabies vaccine that is usually given.

The Milwaukee Protocol treatment was developed by Dr Rodney Willoughby in the U.S..

Meanwhile, more than 300 000 dogs in KwaZulu-Natal are to receive rabies jabs in a robust campaign against the disease, which kicks off later this week.

Agriculture and Environment MEC Meshack Radebe announced this yesterday, the day after eight-year-old Snethemba Hlongwane, of Bergville, was buried after having died from the disease.

Almost a third of the dogs examined in the province this year — 107 out of 350 — have tested positive for rabies.

Radebe said R15 million from the United Nations World Health Organisation had been dedicated for the vaccination campaign, along with an awareness campaign.

His department said more animals had caught the disease this year than usual and the outbreak in the Winterton-Bergville area was showing up in Loskop.

He warned people not take it lightly if they were bitten by a dog, even if it was their own.

“We can’t lose more lives,” Radebe said. “One life is too many.”

Yesterday the MEC visited Anderson in the intensive care unit at Medi-Clinic. He had caught rabies after coming into contact with a stray dog 10 weeks ago. “We pray that God will work his magic to save this guy.”

The provincial Agriculture and Environment Department said an average of two people died of rabies in KZN every year.

Hlongwane apparently caught rabies after he was bitten by his uncle’s dog last month.

His mother, Nosihle, took him to the clinic the following day where a nurse injected him. She allegedly told her he would be fine because the dog had been vaccinated.

• gabisile.ngcobo@witness.co.za

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