Rabies report not accurate - dept

2012-06-04 17:43
Johannesburg - Pet owners need not stay away from their animals after a vaccination against rabies, the department of agriculture said on Monday.

It said one could not contract rabies by touching or being bitten by healthy dogs and cats. Earlier reports warning people to avoid their pets for a while were not accurate.

"There is no need to stay away from your pets for a month after they have been vaccinated against rabies," the department said.

Rabies cases occurred most commonly among children, accounting for 40% of bite victims world-wide.

"A rabies-infected animal, sometimes also referred to as a rabid animal, most commonly will show behavioural and temperamental changes," the department said.

Other signs of infection included drooling, inability to swallow, muscle weakness, inco-ordination, seizures and biting at inanimate objects.

Vaccination was the recommended treatment to prevent domestic animals from becoming infected and transmitting the disease to people.

The department said the Animal Diseases Act stated pet owners must vaccinate animals against rabies between the ages of three and seven months, then 12 months later and every three years afterwards.

Vaccinating pets, teaching children how to avoid being bitten by dogs and cats, and receiving immediate medical care if bitten by a rabies-infected animal were the best ways to combat the disease.

"Being bitten by an animal with rabies will result in death unless preventative treatment is started immediately," the department said.

The department said the rabies outbreak in KwaZulu-Natal, within the Winterton area, was localised.

A woman showing symptoms of rabies died in Durban last Wednesday.

The woman, who was bitten by a neighbour's dog on 24 March, did not seek medical care and was admitted to hospital on May 24.

A boy also died of suspected rabies on 17 May after being bitten by the family dog.

There was a mass rabies vaccination campaign underway across KwaZulu-Natal, the department said.

Read more on:    animals  |  health
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