RABIES Day is a global day of action and awareness aimed at educating people about rabies prevention. Non-governmental organisations, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and veterinary clinics commemorated this day on September 28 to raise awareness about rabies. This year’s theme was: “Share the message. Save the life”. The inspectorate manager at a local SPCA, Sue Noakes, said: “Our SPCA held a rabies clinic in support of International Rabies Day and as part of an awareness campaign against the deadly virus which kills both animals and people. “Due to the severity of the rabies outbreak in Durban and greater KZN, we would like to urge all animal owners to have their dogs and cats vaccinated against the virus as required by law,” Noakes said.She said animal owners may contact the State Vet to ascertain when the next rabies outreach clinics will be conducted in areas closest to them. “Alternatively, they can contact their closest SPCA or veterinary clinic,” Noakes said.She added: “When members of the public notice a stray animal in their area, it is important that they refrain from chasing it, making loud noises around it, throwing anything at it or hurting it in any way as this will cause distress and aggravate its possible condition.“Any of these actions will also infuriate an aggressive dog and increase the chances of it biting people or other animals.” Noakes warned the public to keep away from any aggressive or suspiciously acting animals and also keep children and other animals away from it.“Please contact your nearest SPCA to assist you with the stray animal.“It is crucial that anyone bitten by a suspected rabid animal or exposed to its saliva or other bodily fluids, immediately receives treatment which is offered by most state hospitals and clinics,” Noakes said. According to an ER24 report, the symptoms of rabies include fever with pain and unusual tingling, pricking or burning sensation at the wound site. According to the ER24 report, rabies can be transmitted to humans following a bite or scratch from an animal with rabies. Transmission can also occur when infectious material comes into direct contact with human mucosa or a fresh wound. Doctor Salochanee Saimen from Animal Zone Clinic in Tongaat said: “With the excitement of spring in full bloom, you might have been remiss and forgot that on September 28 it was World Rabies Day. ‘Unfortunately, this wasn’t a call to celebrate; it was an opportunity to create awareness around rabies in South Africa. ‘To minimise the risks of this deadly viral disease, it’s important to educate yourself on the signs, causes and realities of rabies.”She said rabies affects all warm-blooded animals, which includes humans, and the most common cause of rabies in humans is through dog bites and occasionally deep cat scratches. The rabies virus affects the neurological system of the body in all species. Saimen added: “Signs that the rabies virus might have infected an animal include fever, seizures, paralysis, a dropped jaw, unusual shyness or aggression, excessive salivation or frothy saliva and lack of co-ordination. “If you see any of these rabies symptoms or you suspect, for any reason that an animal may be suffering from rabies, it’s vital that you contact a veterinarian immediately.” She said if the pet has been vaccinated against the rabies virus, there are few chances that a person can be affected.“However, if you think your dog has been exposed to rabies, contact your vet immediately as additional boosters are advised and there is a protocol to be followed.“It’s important to note that getting a rabies vaccination for your dog is required by law. According to the South African Veterinary Association (Sava), South African Veterinary Council (SAVC) and government regulations, the rabies vaccination should be repeated annually in high-risk areas,” Saimen said.