KZN aims to halt rabies in five years

2011-03-23 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Agriculture and Environmental Affairs Department yesterday launched a five-year campaign to eliminate canine rabies in the province.

The project was launched in Qambokwethu in Umhlathuze Municipality near Richards Bay.

It is being launched in conjunction with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which reportedly injected R20 million into eliminating the disease.

Rabies is a fatal disease which affects the nervous system of mammals, including humans.

It is found in the saliva of the infected animal and is transmitted through its bite of that animal, or through saliva contamination of the mucous membranes.

It is endemic throughout South Africa and is responsible for 10 to 30 human deaths annually.

In a statement, the department said it plans to eradicate canine rabies and eliminate human deaths in the province through active research, improving awareness and instituting control methods over the next five years.

Said Ncumisa Mafunda, a spokesperson for the department, “KwaZulu-Natal has historically been the worst affected province in SA, but through innovation has become a leader in the field of rabies control, and has effectively reduced the incidence of the disease by 63% in the last three years.”

Mafunda said the department will embark on a vaccination road show to even the most far-flung areas to vaccinate dogs.

Lydia Johnson, the MEC for Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development, said the disease is in steep decline.

“As we launch this project we implore the communities of KZN to support the mass vaccination programmes across the province, so that together we can stop this terrible disease…” Johnson added.

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