Rabies cases increasing

2012-09-26 14:31
Rabies vaccination (AP)

Rabies vaccination (AP)

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Johannesburg - Rabies cases are on the increase in South Africa, Netcare Travel Clinics said on Wednesday.

"Four people in KwaZulu-Natal died of rabies this year, bringing the potentially deadly medical condition to the fore once more," Dr Pete Vincent said in a statement.

"... These fatalities and the worrying number of cases reported around South Africa in recent months have highlighted the importance of educating [people] about this dreaded disease."

World Rabies Day is on Friday.

About 55 000 people worldwide die of rabies every year, 44% of them in Africa.

Vincent said there was a misconception about rabies, which is a viral disease that attacks the brain, and that people needed to be aware of how to protect themselves.

"Many people do not realise that it is possible to contract rabies when the saliva from an infected animal comes into contact with an open wound or mucous membrane," he said.

Another misconception was that all animals infected became highly aggressive.

"In fact, some rabid animals become very passive and one needs to watch for any change in behaviour, rather than just aggression," said Vincent.

People should stay away from strange dogs or animals behaving strangely.

He said unlike many other infectious diseases, clinical infection with rabies could be prevented through immunisation, even after exposure to the virus.

If people were bitten, they could be saved if treated timeously and properly. The wound had to be cleaned thoroughly with soap and water and then the person had to be taken for urgent medical attention, said Vincent.
Read more on:    rabies  |  health

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